We understand that projects don’t always go as planned. When you end a fixed-price contract with remaining funds in escrow, you can request an escrow refund.
Good to know: If you want to continue the contract, but not release all of the escrowed funds, you can release a partial milestone payment. The leftover funds can then be used towards the next milestone.
To request an escrow refund
This process only applies to Fixed-Price Contracts with amounts still in escrow. For refunds on fixed-price contracts where the funds have been released, go here. For refunds on hourly contracts, take a look here.
- Go to My Jobs to locate the contract
- Choose the (...) options menu and select End contract
- Choose Pay nothing and request a refund or Pay another amount when ending the contract
If your final payment is less than your escrow balance, an escrow refund request will be sent to your freelancer or agency. They will have seven days to respond.
If your freelancer accepts the refund request
If your freelancer approves the refund or does not respond within seven days, we will refund the money in escrow. Refund credits can take up to five business days to appear.
If your talent disputes the escrow refund
Your freelancer or agency can dispute the refund request. If this happens, we will notify you by email and you can either accept or reject their response:
- If you accept the response, we will release the funds to the freelancer or agency.
- If you reject the response, a dispute will be submitted and an Upwork mediation specialist will provide mediation assistance to both parties to try and resolve the dispute.
Once a dispute is submitted, you may review or update the request by logging into your Upwork account and going to the Help Center and choosing My Requests/Disputes. The mediation process can take up to 21 days.
If you and your talent are unable to reach an agreement during the mediation period, the mediation specialist will make a non-binding recommendation. If you or the freelancer reject that recommendation, the final option is to proceed to binding arbitration (meaning the decision of the arbitrator will be final) by the American Arbitration Association, which is a neutral third-party organization. There is a fee for arbitration, and the cost is divided between you, talent, and Upwork.
If the payment was released from escrow within the last 30 days you can request a refund from talent through Upwork and file a dispute if they refuse. You can still request a refund of released funds for up to 180 days after payment is released, but you will only be able to file a dispute for the first 30 days. After that, it is up to the freelancer or agency whether to give you a refund. Go here to learn more about this process.
When reviewing a milestone, you can choose to release a partial milestone payment. You can then end the contract and request a refund of the remaining amount, or keep the contract open and use the leftover funds toward the next milestone.
When your talent or agency submits a milestone for your approval, you have 14 days to review and approve. This is set in the Fixed-Price Escrow Instructions. During this period, you can release the full payment, release a partial payment, or request changes to the work. You can also file a dispute. If you do not take any action within those 14 days, that is considered approval and funds will be automatically released to your freelancer or agency.
You still have the option to request a refund from your freelancer or agency through Upwork once the funds have been released and file a dispute if they refuse, as long as you do so within 30 days. After 30 days, you can request a refund for up to 180 days, but it is up to the freelancer or agency whether to refund — you won’t be able to file a dispute after 30 days.