Global Compensation

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Compensation Principles

  1. We're an open organization and want to be transparent about our compensation principles and paying local rates, while not disclosing individual compensation. We've developed a compensation calculator that provides an estimate of market rates for various roles, across the globe.
  2. We offer stock options for most positions.
  3. Compensation is based on market rate for the region, your job title, and your (expected) level of performance.
  4. We base compensation on current position and performance, not on what we paid you last month.
  5. When your position or performance changes we'll adjust your pay as soon as possible: Note that your experience level is re-evaluated when you get a new title.
  6. We don't offer ping pong tables or free lunches. We think it is more important to offer people flexibility and freedom, see the Top 10 reasons to work for GitLab on our culture page.
  7. The rent index depends on your geographical area.
    1. To determine your area, select the country you live in. This will filter out all areas outside of your country. Based on the remaining choices under "area," if you live within one hour and forty five minutes of a city listed, you may use that as your location. If not, you will select "Everywhere else." If the only item listed for the country is "All," the country has the same Rent Index regardless of the city you live in. If applicable, a state or province might be listed instead of a city.
    2. If your country is not listed, reach out to People Ops to gather relevant data.
    3. When you move you have to inform us and we may adjust your compensation up or down. Refer to the "move calculator" to see what the likely impact will be.
  8. We hire across the globe but we're not location agnostic. Your timezone, the market rate in your region, and vicinity to users, customers, and partners can all be factors. For example, we may favor an applicant over another because they live in a region with a lower market rate or because we need someone in that timezone. All things being equal we will hire people in lower cost markets vs. higher cost markets.
  9. As you can see from our contracts, compensation is typically set at a fixed monthly rate. People on quota (account executives, account managers, and sales leadership) have variable compensation that is about 50% of their On Target Earnings (OTE). Individual contributors in the sales organization have variable compensation that is purely based on commission. Solutions Architects currently have a lower variable component, we're not sure how this will evolve. All other people have fixed compensation (but we do have bonuses and incentives).
  10. Compensation decisions around level and experience levels and for functions not in the calculator are taken by the compensation committee. This committee consists of the CFO, CEO, and Chief Culture Officer. When there is no time to coordinate with the committee the CEO can take a decision and inform the committee. When the CEO is away (e.g. vacation), the two other members of the committee can take a decision and inform the committee. Whatever the decision is, the compensation committee should be cc-ed (or bcc-ed) on the final email, so that the committee members can know that the loop was closed.

Regular Compensation

  1. Employees of our Dutch entity (GitLab B.V.) will get their salary wired on the 25th of every month, and can see their pay slip in their personal portal on HR Savvy's system towards the end of the month.
  2. Employees of our Dutch entity who are based in Belgium will get their salary wired around the last day of each month and will receive their pay slip in their personal portal on Boekfisk's system
  3. Employees of our Dutch entity based in India that are employed through GitLab's co-employer Lyra will get their salary wired around the last day of the month. Lyra will send pay slips electronically but will be switching to a HR portal very soon so that pay slips and tax declaration forms can be accessed directly.
  4. Employees of our US entity (GitLab Inc.) have payroll processed semi-monthly through TriNet, and they can access their pay slips through the TriNet portal.
  5. Employees of our UK entity (GitLab Ltd) will get their salary wired on the last day of every month, and can see their pay slip via their personal portal on Vistra's system towards the end of the month.
  6. Employees of our German entity (GitLab GmbH) will get their salary wired on the last day of every month, and can see their pay slip via their person portal on RPI International Payroll's system towards the end of the month.
  7. Contractors to GitLab (either entity) should send their invoices for services rendered to
    • For 'fixed fee' contracts, it is OK to send the invoice before the time period that it covers is over. For example, an invoice covering the period of March 1-31 can be sent on March 25.
    • All invoices are internally reviewed, approved, and then payment is processed. This is usually a fast process, but be aware that it can incur delays around vacations. In principal, payments go out once per week on Fridays.
    • An invoice template can be found as a Google sheet named "Invoice Template" (also listed on the finance page )
  8. To process any changes, see the directions on the system processes page.

Performance-Based (Merit) Increase Plan

2018 Merit Increase Plan

The plan outlined for 2018 can change at any time at the discretion of GitLab and the current financial plan.

The merit process for 2018 will begin in Februrary of 2018. People Ops will follow the same process by creating and sending out manager worksheets with all eligible and inelgible team members listed. The manager worksheets also reflect the impact to the overall budget based on the performance ratings.

2017 Merit Increase Plan

Cost of living adjustments (COLA) emphasize participation over accountability, generate mediocrity, and lead to the disengagement of high performers, while performance-based (merit) increases reward results and motivate continued development and higher achievements.

The following performance-based increase guidelines are intended to ensure a fair distribution of the merit budget based on each individual’s 2016 overall performance.

Increases will be effective with global pay cycles on May 1st for all eligible team members whose manager and Executive approve an increase recommendation.




Merit Increase Guidelines

Lump Sum Award

Merit Increases and Stock Options

For the 2017 Merit Increase Plan, additional stock options are not granted. This will be reviewed for the 2018 Merit Increase Plan.

Manager Worksheets

Key Deliverables

General questions should be sent to the People Ops email for response within one business day. Please feel free to ping Abby or Brittany directly for more immediate attention on truly urgent issues during the performance and merit review processes.

Communicating Performance Reviews and Merit Adjustments

Once the merit process is complete, People Operations will send an email to all managers to schedule a time to deliver 2016 performance feedback and review ratings gaps between self and manager reviews. In some cases individual performance has improved over the rating received for 2016. Managers should explain that changes in performance will be documented in the first half 2017 performance cycle coming up in July. Email People Ops after the merit increase details and performance ratings are delivered. People Operations will stage each individual's Letter of Adjustment for Merit via HelloSign, then update BambooHR with the details.

People Operations Cross Check Data

All manager workbooks are linked using a vlookup and importrange function in Google sheets back to an administrative workbook to stay DRY. As performance ratings, manager comments, and executive adjustment are entered into the appropriate cells, all sheets populate automatically due to the feed. To audit the workbook, verify that all formulas are copied correctly to each cell, all formulas are functioning properly with the data set, and every team member at GitLab is on the sheet.

Once all merit adjustments have been approved, create a separate google sheet for the payroll file feeds.

Exchange Rate Fluctuations

There are some team members that are not paid in their local currency either by choice or GitLab's bank does not support their currency. The currencies that GitLab can pay in are published on the contracts page. So we can try to keep compensation level in the local currency amount People Operations will perform exchange rate reviews at six month intervals as part of the January 1 and July 1 Oanda rates that are being used as benchmarks for the compensation calculator. People Operations will confirm, by letter of adjustment any increases or decreases to compensation as a result of this review and update the exchange rate based on those dates in BambooHR. Any significant increases or decreases will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis before any changes are made. Additionally if a team member is impacted outside of this review period they should reach out to People Operations.

Paying Local Rates

Different than business travel, vacation, or visiting a relative for a few weeks, relocation means that you will establish yourself in a new location outside of your current metro area. If you are ending your current residential living arrangement, spending more than six months in one location as part of an extensive period of travel and/or will have your mail delivered to an address in a different city please contact us.

As stated in the people ops section of the handbook, you should first obtain written agreement (from your manager) when planning a relocation. It is the company's discretion to offer you a contract in your new location. At the time of the location update, we will take into consideration your new metro region when making a salary offer for continued employment.

At the onset, this practice sounds harsh when moving to a lower paid region. One might argue that it seems unfair for the organization to pay someone less for the same work in the same role, regardless of where they go. However, if you look at it from another angle for a minute and compare this practice to what most companies do, it should make more sense. For example, say you work for a company with physical locations and say they haven't accepted that remote work is as productive as coming into the office yet. If you wanted to pack up and move to a location where they did not have a physical site, you would have no alternative but to resign and seek new employment in your new location. You would find quickly that companies in the area pay at local employment market rates.

Now, let's say the company did have a site in your new location and they offered the flexibility to transfer. If they did not have a similar position open, you would have to either apply for a different open position in the same company or resign and apply externally (back to the realization that other companies will pay at local market rates). If you were lucky enough that they did have a similar role in the new location, a transfer would come with a pay rate based on the local market to ensure equity across all incumbents (people in the job) by location.

Adjusting pay according to the local market in all cases is fair to everyone. We can't remain consistent if we make exceptions to the policy and allow someone to make greater than local market rate for the same work others in that region are doing (or will be hired to do). We realize we might lose a few good people over this pay policy, but being fair to all team members is not negotiable. It is a value we stand behind and take very seriously.

Experience Factor Guidelines

The experience factor is determined by the direct manager for each team member, and reviewed by all indirect managers. This factor does not directly reflect years of work experience, but instead, demonstrated ability to drive projects and deliverables from their job description to completion within GitLab. The goal of quantifying experience factors, as it relates to compensation, is to ensure they are accurate to work toward getting to the right salary. Experience Factors should also be used in coaching and developing employees. We will be fixing the compensation tool, but we need accurate data going into the iteration to make sure the compensation tool is also accurate. In 2017, we hope to get the correct baseline for the experience factors for our employees going into 2018.

If a manager is new to the team member, and has not had time to assess the experience factor, collaboration with previous managers or colleagues to determine the person’s skills is encouraged. This can serve as a strong data point when assessing experience factors.

It is important to take all aspects of the position description into account when determining experience factor. For assistance, on how to quantify experience factors, refer to our Experience Factor Worksheet. In addition, the most recent performance review can be a helpful tool when distinguishing the experience factor the team member is currently performing at. We are changing the way we do performance reviews (decoupling from comp, using 360 feedback, etc). Performance reviews should not be about judging, but helping people. We do not want performance reviews where people are holding back, so these metrics are different as experince factors are used within the compensation tool.

Also, feel free to discuss the experience factors with your direct reports to get to an accurate number.

Experience Factor  
New to the position requirements 0.8
Learning the position requirements 0.9
Comfortable with the requirements 1
Thriving with the requirements 1.1
Expert in the requirements 1.2

Explanation of Experience factors:

If you have any questions around determining experience factors, please feel free to open an issue or email People Operations.

2017 Experience Factor Review

  1. People Operations will announce the training on Tuesday, October 3, 2017.
  2. There will be Q&A calls for managers to ask questions on how to assess their team's experience factors. Calls are listed on the availability calendar and will be open to all team members. The calls will also be recorded and automatically added to the Google Drive.
  3. Schedule:
    • October 4th at 9:00 AM Pacific Time
    • October 5th at 4:00 PM Pacific Time
    • October 10th at 5:30 AM Pacific Time
  4. Monday, October 16th: Deadline for managers to fill in the Experience Factor Input Sheet. You should use the Experience Factor Worksheetto help determine what that experience factor is, in addition to having a detailed discussion with your team about their experience levels. Any team member on an OTE plan will be reviewed at a later date. There is no data on previous experience factors, we want these to be generated using the new guidelines.

Compensation Calculator

As a natural extension of the Compensation Principles outlined above, and our commitment to transparency, sharing, efficiency, directness, and boring solutions (amongst other values), we developed a Compensation Calculator that we are rolling out for those roles in which we have the most contributors, and thus for whom the question about "what is fair compensation" comes up most frequently.

The goals of the calculator are:

  1. Calculate compensation for 200+ metro regions all over the world.
  2. Based on a simple formula.
  3. Based on publicly available data.
  4. That is as accurate as possible given the other constraints.

As with all things at GitLab, the compensation calculator is a constant work in progress. Please send an email to ernst@ company domain if/when you find a big difference between what the calculator suggests vs. what market data indicates. Please make sure to include all relevant links and data.

The formula

Your compensation = NYC benchmark x (0.25 + Rent Index + Hot Market Adjustment) x Level Factor x Experience Factor x Contract Type Factor


See the calculator in action for example for the Developer role, on the Developer job description.

To convert USD to local currency, we use the January 1 and July 1 Oanda currency conversion rates.

How was it developed?

In developing the compensation formula above, we looked at the compensation of our team members which had been set in the past (without the formula), and found out that there was a statistically significant correlation between compensation and the factors that are now in the formula. We purposefully chose to look for correlations with metrics that are probably causal and definitely relevant in people's lives (the rent!). This also has the advantage of letting us work with data that is readily available publicly, as opposed to trying to scour the web for market compensation rates for all roles in all locations. Perhaps surprisingly, there was a stronger correlation between compensation and rent index than with the more general cost of living index available through Numbeo (or the cost of living with rent index, for that matter); and so we moved ahead with the Rent Index. The goal of the calculator is not to compensate people for their cost of living, the goal is to offer market rate compensation, and rent is a better indicator of that than cost of living.

It was a small step to go from the initial linear regression to picking the coefficients that are now in the formula, except that we 'discovered' that an offset was needed in the Rent Index to make things work (i.e. to have the formula 'predict' compensations that were in line with current actual compensations). As a consequence of this offset of 25%, for an employee in New York their median compensation will be 25% higher than what the New York benchmark would have suggested. This probably reflects that we generally hire better than 'median' performers.

The contract type factor helps to make the distinction between an employee and a contractor for those countries where we offer both contract types. For example, a typical contractor may have to bear the costs of their own health insurance, social security taxes and so forth, leading to a higher compensation for the contractor. As another example the costs also vary for employees between countries, for example if there are more government mandated programs, this commonly leads to more costs for the employer and a lower pay for the individual. The contract type factor is meant to capture these differences.

Geographical Areas

As we gathered feedback from the compensation calculator, we realized in some cities that are not major metro areas, the calculator would come in low. To broaden our rent index data points, we incorporated Geographical Areas into the compensation calculator.

To determine geographical areas, we looked at what the United Nations outlines globally. To determine the rent indexes for each country please see the following process per geographical area and country:

  1. Research via an official website what appropriate regions are within the country/area. For example, in the United States there are four regions with nine subdivisions. In the United Kingdom, for compensation purposes, there are four different areas.
  2. Pull all numbeo data for the region selected.
  3. Determine any outliers for the region (on the high end). Make these separate geographical areas.
  4. Define a commutable region for the area (1.75 hours through a google search).
  5. From the remaining data points, select the highest to be used for everywhere else in the region. (Most of these data points should be very close.)
  6. If there is a historic Numbeo number that is higher than the current Rent Index, use the historic number.
  7. Determine if a minimum rent index should be used in the region. (This would normally occur if there is a large gap between remaining data points.)
  8. If there is no data for a country, do not include in the comp calculator. If needed, we can review the compensation based on the region and other salary data.
  9. If there is no data for a state/province within a country, assign the lowest value of the other states/provinces.

Note: The Compensation Calculator lists out metro areas or states for user interface clarity, but the process above is followed for each region, not per state.

Contract Type Factors

This list will be expanded as we gain more experience with the calculator and as we are able to offer employee contracts (as opposed to only contractor contracts) in various countries. Visit our contracts page to learn more about the different types of contracts we offer.

Country Employee Contractor
Rest of World 1.17
Belgium 0.80
China 0.66
Germany 0.90
India 0.75
Netherlands 0.80
United Kingdom 0.80
United States 1.00