Dispute an Agency or Freelancer’s Hours

Fixed-price contract? Go here instead.

Upwork Hourly Protection allows you to dispute an agency or freelancer’s hours if you feel that you have been billed for more time than they worked on your project. A dispute is a formal disagreement on an hourly contract about your current invoice.


Contacting our customer support team or requesting a refund does not qualify as filing a dispute; you must use the following steps to officially file a dispute.

Keep in mind that timing is critical here — you must file any dispute during the five days after the billing period closes. For example, freelancers must submit their hours for the prior week to you by Sunday at midnight UTC. You then have from Monday at noon UTC until Friday at midnight UTC to review those hours and file a dispute, if needed.


File a dispute

  1. Go to Jobs  My Jobs and choose the contract you wish to dispute.
  2. From the Contract Room, choose the (…) options menu under the freelancer’s name. For an agency, look under the Last Week section.
  3. Select Request a Refund. You'll be asked to request a refund in hopes they can resolve the matter themselves. If they don't do so in a timely manner, you must return here by Friday to officially file a dispute.
  4. Select Complete the dispute form.

Note: This dispute process isn't available to clients/contracts participating in the Upwork Payroll program.

After you file a dispute

  1. We immediately alert your freelancer or agency business manager via email and a notification in their Upwork account. If the recipient accepts the dispute or doesn't respond, we’ll refund the disputed hours to you on behalf of the freelancer as a credit. If the freelancer rejects and challenges the dispute, it will be reviewed by an Upwork Dispute Specialist.
  2. Our dispute specialist will review and evaluate the contract Work Diary using the criteria stated in the Upwork Hourly Protection. Please allow up to four business days to receive a dispute decision.
  3. Although your account has already been charged for all of the hours billed, a dispute puts payment on hold while the dispute specialist reviews the matter.
  4. If the specialist decides the dispute in your favor, the amount that was billed to you for the hours in question (including Upwork payment processing fees) will be credited to your Upwork account. If the specialist decides in favor of the freelancer, the payment you made will be released to them.
I missed the deadline to file a dispute. What do I do?

Disputes must be filed by the Friday after the freelancer bills the hours. If you miss this window, you and your freelancer should work together to resolve any issues and discuss your freelancer submitting a refund. Still can’t resolve the issue and within 30 days of payment? Please contact customer support to learn about our mediation assistance.

My problem is with the quality of work, not the hours billed. What do I do?

Filing a dispute through Upwork’s process must be based on the hours a freelancer has billed you for. That means you cannot file a dispute with us because you are not satisfied with the quality of the freelancer’s work. In those cases, you and your freelancer should discuss the matter and work together to resolve any issues. You can also request a refund from your freelancer. Still can’t resolve the issue and within 30 days of payment? Please contact customer support to learn about our mediation assistance (see the escrow instructions for details).

What happens if I cancel a dispute?

If you cancel a dispute before it is decided, Upwork takes no action and the payment will be released to your freelancer. You cannot reopen a dispute.

What if I have a fixed-price contract?

Fixed-price contracts are covered by Upwork Fixed-Price Protection.

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