Forums/Working with Clients/Rates & Terms

FAQs for freelancers who worked for less than $3/hr before 11/19/14

Jacqueline Pittenger
posted this on February 11, 2013, 8:10 PM

On November 19, 2014, we introduced a minimum rate of $3.00 per hour (including the Upwork Service fee) for all new hourly contracts. Please read our community forum announcement for more background.


Details of the minimum rate policy:

New Relationships

Any hourly contract offer extended on/after November 19, 2014 between a client/client company* and a freelancer who has not been previously hired by the client/client company must adhere to the new minimum rate.

* Note: “Client company” is a client account on Upwork that has one or more teams. Any hiring manager on any team within a client account is considered part of the client company.

For example:

  • Marcel (client) and Jodie (freelancer) have never worked together. No one at Marcel’s company has ever worked with Jodie. On November 16, 2014, Marcel tries to make an offer to Jodie for less than $3/hr. He is not permitted to do so because he and his company have no prior relationship with Jodie and the offer was extended after minimum rate policy went into effect.
     
  • Omar (client) and Christopher (freelancer) have never worked together. On August 27, 2014, Omar offers Christopher an hourly contract of $2.90/hour. Because the offer was made prior to November 19, 2014, Christopher can accept the terms and is permitted to continue working at less than $3/hour if he so agrees.

Pre-Existing Relationships

We will continue to honor the hourly rates of contracts formed prior to this date, and clients and freelancers who have previously worked together at less than $3.00 per hour can form new contracts with no minimum requirement. Specifically:

All current contracts for less than $3/hour will be allowed to continue. For example:

  • Stefan hired Ibrahim to a contract that began on July 6, 2013. This contract is not subject to the minimum rate requirement. Ibrahim can continue working at less than $3/hour, and any future changes to the contract’s hourly rate are not subject to the minimum rate requirement.

A client/client company that has ever hired a freelancer at less than $3/hour may re-hire that same freelancer at less than $3/hour. For example:

  • David previously hired Jennifer at $2.50/hour before November 19, 2014. That contract has now ended, but David can seek to re-hire Jennifer at any time without being subject to the minimum rate requirement.
     
  • Olga is a client with several teams set up in her Upwork account. Prior to November 19, 2014, she hired Andrey to an hourly contract within her “translation” team. Any hiring manager in any of Olga’s teams (not just in her “translation” team) can re-hire Andrey without the minimum rate requirement.

Pre-existing relationships must be with a specific freelancer. Pre-existing relationships between a client/client company and an agency are not considered. For example:

  • Mark, who is a member of an agency on Upwork, was hired at $2.75 by a client company before November 19, 2014. After November 19, that client company can continue working with Mark at that rate, on both the existing contract and any new contracts. However, any new contract the company makes with another member of Mark’s agency is subject to the minimum rate requirement (unless the client has previously worked with that freelancer at less than $3/hour).

Profile Rate

By December 15, 2014 -- 30 days after the policy goes into effect -- all freelancers must display an hourly rate of $3 or more on their profile. Any freelancers with a profile rate less than $3/hour as of December 16, 2014 will not be searchable on Upwork and will not be permitted to apply to jobs. To update your profile rate, log in to your freelancer account, go to Settings, then to My Freelancer Profile, then to Change Hourly Bill Rate.

Note: The $3/hour minimum applies to the amount the client is charged (the hourly bill rate inclusive of the Upwork Service fee).


Frequently Asked Questions:

Who does this impact?

All freelancer profiles and all new client-freelancer relationships. Please see the detailed terms above.

Are there any exceptions?

Pre-existing client-freelancer relationships formed at less than $3/hour will be allowed to continue outside of the minimum rate requirement as long as both parties so agree. No other exceptions will be made.

When will this policy go into effect?

The policy is effective as of November 19, 2014. By December 15, 2014, all profiles must display an hourly rate of $3/hour or more.

Does a minimum apply to fixed-price jobs?

Fixed-price contracts are not subject to a minimum.

What about trial projects used to vet candidates?

All hourly contracts, including trial contracts, are subject to the minimum rate requirement. You may try fixed-price trial projects if you do not want to be subject to a minimum.

What should I do if I am impacted by this policy?

We do not take lightly the impact this policy may have on all the clients and freelancers who rely on us for their businesses and careers. In particular, we’re sensitive to the relationships our clients and freelancers have already formed with one another. Thus, this policy will apply only to new client-freelancer relationships formed on or after November 19, 2014. We will continue to honor the hourly rates of contracts formed prior to this date.

If the hourly rate displayed on your freelancer profile is less than $3/hour, you must update it to be at or above $3/hour by December 15. Any freelancers with a profile rate less than $3/hour as of December 16, 2014 will not be searchable on Upwork and will not be permitted to apply to jobs.

If you are concerned about the impact this policy may have on your new contracts, you can try fixed-price contracts, which are not subject to a minimum.

How did you decide on $3/hour as the minimum?

After considering the large differences in rates earned around the world -- as well as the diversity of work done on our platform -- we believe $3/hour strikes the right balance between discouraging low-quality work and minimizing disruption to client-freelancer relationships.

Are all freelancers and clients subject to the same minimum?

Yes. As of November 19, 2014, all clients and freelancers will now adhere to a $3 minimum hourly rate charge. Any on-platform rate testing has now concluded.

Why aren’t you enforcing minimums by geography and/or skill area?

We recognize that $3/hour means different things depending on geography, and that different skills in our marketplace are valued at different rates. We are constantly testing levers to improve quality and rates within work categories. However, we are not introducing different minimums for different geographies or skill areas at this time.

Isn’t Upwork a free marketplace for work?

We believe in a competitive market that rewards quality and skill and allows clients and freelancers to easily connect with one another. As with other economies, we have policies to uphold a healthy, high-quality marketplace.

Can I keep on working for less than $3/hour on my current contracts?

Yes. The minimum rate requirement does not apply to contracts that are currently open.

Can I work with a client in the future for less than $3/hour if I worked with them in the past for less than $3/hour?

Yes. Any pre-existing relationships formed at less than $3/hour will be permitted to continue / re-start without being subject to the minimum rate requirement.

Can I accept offers after November 19, 2014 that were made for less than $3/hour?

Upwork will automatically check for rates and exceptions before an offer is submitted. You are welcome to accept any official offer you receive (meaning the client accepted the Upwork terms and clicked the “Make Offer” button).

If the offer was extended verbally but not submitted in Upwork until after November 19, it will not receive an exception unless you have previously worked with that client for less than $3/hour.

Can I bid on jobs below $3/hour after November 19, 2014?

Upwork will automatically check for rates and exceptions before you submit your bid. You will only be permitted to bid on jobs below $3/hour if you already work or have worked with that client for less than $3/hour.

What if the terms of the contract were agreed to before November 19, 2014, but the work does not begin until after this date?

If the offer was made in Upwork (meaning the client accepted the Upwork terms and clicked the “Make Offer” button) prior to November 19, 2014, the contract is not subject to the minimum rate requirement -- even if the offer is accepted and/or work begins after November 19.

If the offer was extended verbally but not submitted in Upwork until after November 19, it will be subject to the minimum rate requirement unless you have previously worked with that client for less than $3/hour.

How does this policy apply to agencies?

All freelancers, including members of agencies, are subject to this minimum. The agency’s staffing manager must ensure that all agency freelancers update the hourly rate displayed on their profiles to be at or above $3/hour. Any agency member who has previously worked for less than $3/hour can be re-hired by the same client without the minimum rate requirement. Any agency freelancer who is entering a new project with a new client must adhere to the minimum hourly rate.

Shouldn’t we be allowed to work for whatever rates we choose?

Upwork believes in giving freelancers the autonomy to thrive within the policies and structures of our workplace. Like our other policies, this is meant to foster a high-quality, healthy workplace that clients and freelancers want to be a part of.

I will typically charge new clients a rate less than $3 to get started. How can I compete now that I can’t get in front of new clients?

We recognize that many freelancers vary their rates to stay competitive. However, in certain circumstances, some feel compelled to lower their rates too far in order to win new work. This can result in sub-optimal work quality and low customer satisfaction. We believe the new hourly minimum will raise quality and rate expectations for both clients and freelancers.

Why is Upwork penalizing freelancers who are willing to work for a lower rate?

We understand this policy may impact different freelancers in different ways. Our intention is not to penalize certain freelancers, but rather to elevate the bidding and hiring practices of our entire marketplace. We believe that setting a minimum will encourage freelancers and clients to expect higher pay for higher quality work.

Is Upwork going to increase this minimum rate in the future?

As with any of our policies, we may re-visit this in the future if we believe it warrants an update. However, we do not have any immediate plans to raise the minimum rate.

 
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