Dispute an Agency or Freelancer’s Hours

Fixed-price contract? Go here instead.

We know you take time to interview and carefully consider the freelancers and agencies you contract. On our end, we also want to make sure you only pay for the hours that are spent working on your project.

That’s why we created Upwork Hourly Protection. This safeguard 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.


How to file a dispute

Very important to know

Contacting our customer support team or requesting a refund does not qualify as filing a dispute; you must follow the steps below to officially file a dispute. Timing is critical here. You must file any dispute during the five days after the billing period has closed. 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.


Billing cycle

Request a refund

Before you file a formal dispute, we ask that you reach out to your freelancer or agency and request a refund. Again, timing is critical, so you will want to do this quickly. If you can’t resolve the issue right away, please take the next step of filling a dispute within the five-day review period (as seen above).

To request a refund

  1. Go to JobsMy Jobs and choose the contract.
  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. If the matter isn’t resolved quickly, remember you must return here to file a dispute by Friday at midnight UTC.
  4. Fill out the information and click Send Request.

File a dispute

If you’ve requested a refund but time is running out to resolve the issue during the five-day review period, you should file a dispute.

After you file a dispute

  1. We get to work quickly. We immediately alert your freelancer or agency business manager via email and a notification in their Upwork account. If they accept the dispute or don't respond for three days, we’ll refund any eligible disputed hours to you onto your original billing method (their hours may be protected). If the freelancer rejects the dispute, one of our dispute specialists will step in to help.
  2. The dispute specialist will review and evaluate the contract’s Work Diary, using the criteria stated in Upwork Hourly Protection. Note: Although your account has technically been charged for the hours billed, a dispute puts the payment on hold while we review. Please allow up to four business days to receive a dispute decision.
  3. If the specialist decides in your favor, the amount that was billed to you for the hours in question (including any 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. If you still can’t resolve the issue and are within 30 days of payment, please contact Upwork 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. This means you cannot file a dispute 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. If you still can’t resolve the issue and are within 30 days of payment, please contact Upwork 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, we take no action and the payment will be released to your freelancer. You cannot reopen a canceled dispute.

What if I have a fixed-price contract?

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

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