While the vast majority of work done on Upwork goes smoothly for both parties, occasionally disputes can 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, that is considered approval and funds will be automatically released. Freelancers and agencies can also file a dispute if a client fails to release a payment from escrow despite delivery of the agreed upon milestone, or if a client ends a fixed-price contract without releasing the full escrow balance. If a dispute is filed you will be notified by email and given the chance to accept or reject the dispute.

Important: If a dispute is filed you must respond within 5 business days or the funds held in escrow will be released to the freelancer.

To respond to a dispute

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

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

If you accept the dispute

The funds held in escrow will be released 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 the American Arbitration Association, a neutral third-party organization. The total cost for arbitration is $875, with the client paying $291, the freelancer $291 and Upwork $293. See the Upwork Fixed Price Escrow Instructions for more details.

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