Dear Remote Workers: Stand Together Against Location-Based Pay

Workers should be paid based on the value they provide to their companies and its customers, not their home address.

Dear Remote Workers:

Your value as a worker is independent of where you live. If you provide $50k/year worth of value to your employer, all else being equal, that value should neither rise nor fall based on where you live.

Some may argue, “Well, pay structures are often already unjust. After all, women are often paid less than men, so at least location-based pay levels the playing field.” However, the answer to inequity is not inequity of a different kind. And make no mistake – location-based pay is not equitable. Two remote workers with the same job title doing equally good work will be compensated differently based purely on their location. Thus, how are location-based pay structures not a form of discrimination?

Yes, remote employees often choose where they live, but not always. Sometimes employees need to live in a specific geographic location to care for sick or elderly family members. All things being equal, how is reducing such an employee’s compensation based purely on location not unjust?

But what about employees who move somewhere with a lower cost of living simply because they want to? Instead of asserting, “Doesn’t an employee choose where to live and thus choose her salary band?”, we should instead ask, “Provided a remote employee’s location doesn’t hinder her ability to do her job, how is it her company’s business where she lives?” If the job gets done and is done well and on-time, the details of where and when the work gets done are superfluous, and any company taking in interest in such is in danger of becoming either micro-managing or greedy.

Provided there are no location-based performance issues, there is no justifiable reason for a company to be involved in the details of its remote employees’ lives, including where they live.

If anything, companies whose workers are 100% remote save a significant amount of money on office space, office supplies, office-related perks, parking, etc. while also gaining a workforce that supplies its own office equipment, water, sewage, and internet. If anything, remote workers should see these cost savings reflected in increased compensation, not the other way around.

Thus, I ask all remote workers to pledge:

Those Seeking Jobs: If a company wants to interview or hire you and they have a location-based pay structure, kindly say “no.” Don’t interview, don’t accept a job offer, and politely let them know why you’re not willing to consider working for them.

Those Currently Employed: If your company already has or tries to switch to a location-based pay structure, unite with your co-workers in opposing the policy and, if they won’t listen, find a new job. Clearly and politely state the reason for your decision to leave in your resignation letter, email, etc.

By agreeing to work for companies with location-based pay, we as remote workers legitimize this HR strategy and increase the likelihood that it will see wider adoption by companies looking to increase their bottom line at the expense of their employees.

The only way to win is to not play the game. If you’re aware of companies with such policies, please comment below. After verification, they will be added to the following deny-list of companies that currently employ location-based pay structures.

Where an employee lives is their choice. A remote employer shouldn’t penalize your compensation should you decide to move and your new area happens to have a lower cost of living than where you were previously located.


The only caveat to the above is if a company with a location-based pay structure is willing to reduce its employees’ hours and responsibility proportional to any changes in pay.

For example, a company imposing a 10% pay cut due to an employee’s change in location ethically needs to reduce that employee’s hours and responsibilities by 10%; otherwise, the company is guilty of a discriminatory pay practice: Paying two people doing the same job different wages for reasons unrelated to job performance.

Provided a company has such policies and those policies are properly enforced, such workplaces are just and fair and are not the focus of this post.

Deny List: Companies with Location-Based Pay Schemes

Please do not support these companies or agree to work for them until they revoke their location-based pay policies:

  • Facebook
  • Gitlab
  • ServiceNow
  • Twitter
  • VMware
  • WP Engine

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