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Some companies are more flexible than others, but it's pretty common that "remote" employees can't just pickup and move anywhere in the world they feel like it. Honestly, if one really wants to have that kind of flexibility they should probably consider consulting.

GitLab hires all "employees" in non-mainstream locations as contractors anyways. So, legally, it is consulting. But they treat you like an employee anyway. Legal grey area?

I don't really care about the legal status. I was suggesting that, as a truly independent contractor, you can set your own rates and if you're fulfilling your contract remotely you can certainly choose to charge the same whether you're in SF or a beach in Thailand.

I stopped reading when you claimed you don't care if it is legal or not to treat someone as an employee, but hire him as a contractor instead.

I care if it's legal or not. But hiring people as full employees requires certain legal structures/organizations to be in place in a location. There are costs associated with setting up those structures. This often doesn't make sense if there's only one person in a country or other such political entity.

Small companies do indeed not expand geographically for this reason--or hire through a partner or other entity that is already established there.

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