While the vast majority of work done on Upwork goes smoothly for both parties, disputes can occasionally arise. Upwork Payment Protection is structured to help protect freelancers and agencies from clients who fail to pay for work delivered, as well as protecting clients from freelancers and agencies that do not deliver work.

When work is submitted towards a milestone, you have 14 days to review and approve the release of funds, or request changes. If you do not take action, we consider that to be approval and automatically release the funds. Freelancers and agencies can also file a dispute if you fail to release a payment from escrow despite delivery of the agreed upon milestone, or if you end a fixed-price contract without releasing the full escrow balance. If a dispute is filed we will notify you by email and give you the chance to accept or reject the dispute.


If a dispute is filed you must respond within 5 business days or we will release the funds held in escrow to the freelancer.

To respond to a dispute

  1. Log into your Upwork account
  2. Go to My Jobs and choose View All Contracts
  3. Find the contract and select See Dispute


You can select the discussion buttons to read and respond to any messages sent regarding the dispute.

If you accept the dispute

We will release the funds held in escrow to the freelancer or agency.

If you reject the dispute

The next step is mediation. We’ll bring you and your freelancer together in Upwork Messages to discuss the issue together for full transparency. In most cases, both parties reach a resolution quickly.

If you and your freelancer are unable to reach an agreement, during that time our mediation specialist may make a non-binding recommendation.

At that point, you will:

  1. Have two calendar days to accept our recommendation or reach an alternative agreement between yourselves
  2. If an agreement can’t be reached, you can move to paid arbitration, which is handled by a third-party company, Brief

Learn more about arbitration here, or see the Upwork Fixed Price Escrow Instructions for more details.

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