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 toward 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 respond to 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. Go to My Jobs and choose View All Contracts
  2. Find the contract and select See Dispute
If you approve the dispute

We will release the funds in escrow that the freelancer requested. Once you select Yes I approve, we will move the funds between accounts.

If you decline the dispute
  1. Select a reason for declining the payment request
  2. Describe the relevant agreements, how they did/did not meet requirements, and attach any documents that may support your case. Be descriptive and through, including time and dates if possible. IMPORTANT: this is your chance to provide all the necessary information and documents to support your dispute claim. You won’t be able to edit details after submission
  3. Once you decline and submit all the relevant details, we will step in to review the dispute details provided by both parties and provide a non-binding resolution (typically within 2 days)

Responding to Upwork’s non-binding resolution

When you and the freelancer receive the non-binding resolution, you each have two calendar days to accept or reject it.

  • If you both accept, we will move funds accordingly
  • If you or the freelancer doesn’t respond within 2 days or one party rejects the non-binding resolution, you will receive a Notice of Non-Resolution. The final option (should you choose to pursue it) is to proceed to binding arbitration (meaning the decision of the arbitrator will be final) by our neutral third-party arbitration provider. Learn more about arbitration here

Access your disputes

Once a dispute is submitted, you may review or update the request:

  1. Go to My Jobs and select All Contracts
  2. Find the contract and select See Dispute

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