Category: Equality

Location-based pay discrimination for remote workers

Remote work is probably the best thing that happened to me professionally. Finally, living in a developing country or remote region doesn’t mean you have to work for peanuts. It’s a huge step towards equality of opportunity and makes a person’s skills paramount for an employer. If you speak English, able to communicate well and know your job it doesn’t really matter where you live.

No, wait, it does. Because some employers are worried about my cost of living so much that they are willing to lower my salary based on it. But let’s be honest, we’re not speaking about fair play here, someone is just trying to buy talent for cheap.

The price of an iPhone, any other piece of tech, or even a car in Eastern Europe is 30-50% higher compared to the US, sometimes even twice as much including customs and shipping costs. I pay for Netflix and Spotify the same, my bids on eBay don’t get adjusted because I have the low cost of living.

The state-funded hospitals are so bad you better think twice before going there. The state-funded schools teach you nothing useful and have the only reason, employ the army of so-called teachers with bought university diplomas. The police refuses to start an investigation after a couple of inadequate narcos tried to break into your house. The universities reputation is somewhere around zero.

Yes, all of this stuff is technically free (cough, bribes, cough) or at least cheap, and you can survive in most cases. You will be unprotected, with tiny chances for reasonable education or healthcare, but you’ll have the low cost of living. Based on this cost of living some employers assume I’m fine with it.

They assume I’ve learnt the foreign languages, acquired competitive skills, and have been working hard all the years to live the same life as those who’ve been drinking beer and watching TV. They assume it’s fine to pay twice as much for those who live in developed countries just because their cost of living is higher.

Well, of course, it’s higher, because what you pay them will fund quality hospitals, schools and kindergartens, health insurance, 401k (or its variants in other countries), and other benefits of a civilised society. Never thought I’d need to explain this but, hey, we kind of need this too, but these things simply don’t exist here, hence the low cost of living. The only way to live a decent life here is to earn more and pay for all this stuff out of your pocket. So, unless you’re fine with taking advantage of your remote employees, you might want to reconsider your salary calculation if the cost of living is in it.