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. Select Disputes from the ? icon on the top menu bar of your account
  2. Choose the title of the dispute from your open disputes
  3. Select an option to accept or reject the 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

An Upwork dispute specialist will provide mediation assistance to both parties to try and resolve the matter. The mediation period will not exceed 30 days, and if you and your freelancer are unable to reach an agreement, the dispute specialist will make a non-binding recommendation. If that recommendation is rejected, the final option is to proceed to arbitration, where a decision will be made by Brief, a neutral third-party organization. 

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