Dispute a Freelancer’s Hours

While the vast majority of work done on Upwork goes smoothly for both parties, it's inevitable that an occasional dispute arises. Our hourly dispute system is structured to protect clients from freelancers who bill for non-working time. If a dispute is filed, Upwork will reverse any time that does not meet the criteria of the Upwork Hourly Protection Policy.

To file a dispute:

  1. Go to the Freelancers tab.
  2. Find the freelancer's contract in your list, then click View Contract in the Actions menu.
  3. Click the Dispute link.
  4. Fill out the form and submit it.

Note–If there is no dispute link on the contract it is because it is either too early or too late to dispute. Additionally, contacting Customer Support does not qualify as filing a dispute. 

Disputes must be based on hours billed, not the quality of the work.

Before you file a dispute, please consider the following:

  • Disputes must be filed during that week's review period. This means you only have until Fridays at midnight UTC to submit a dispute against the hours for the previous work week. You can file even if you have ended the job, as long as the weekly review period has not ended.
  • File a dispute only when all else fails – You should only file a dispute when working the matter out with your freelancer has failed. Please contact the freelancer before the Upwork weekly billing cycle ends to ask them to delete the improperly-logged time from the Work Diary. If it is too late for the freelancer to edit the Work Diary, ask for a refund.
  • This type of dispute is for hourly contracts only – Fixed-price contracts are covered by Upwork Fixed-Price Protection. Once released, escrowed payments are non-disputable, however that does not mean you cannot talk to your freelancer about a refund. On a fixed-price contract, only freelancers can file disputes (for the release of the escrowed funds).
  • This dispute process is not available to clients/contracts participating in the Upwork Payroll program.

After you file a dispute:

  • Upwork sends your freelancer a notification. If the freelancer accepts the dispute, or does not respond, an Upwork Dispute Specialist refunds all disputed hours. If the freelancer rejects the dispute, it enters mediation. The freelancer can add their information about the dispute and hours tracked at this time.
  • The Dispute Specialist reviews and evaluates the Work Diary using the criteria stated in the Upwork Hourly Protection.
  • The freelancer’s non-hourly weekly payment, if any, will be put on hold. It will resume once the dispute is resolved.
  • Hours refunded will result in a credit on your account.
  • If you cancel the dispute before it is decided, Upwork takes no action. You cannot reopen the dispute. It normally takes up to four business days for users to receive a dispute decision.
  • Do not be alarmed if you see that the finance system has processed that week’s payment on the disputed contract. The funds will remain pending until the Dispute Manager resolves the dispute.

How Upwork handles disputed charges:

  • We cannot put the weekly billing cycle on hold awaiting the resolution of a dispute. Your account will be charged for all of the hours billed according to the usual weekly billing cycle, but your freelancer will not have access to the funds until an Upwork Dispute Manager makes a decision on the case.
  • When a dispute is awarded in your favor, we credit the refund for the removed time to your Upwork account.

In all cases in which mediation is required, Upwork will carefully consider any information presented regarding the contested hours, but we will primarily base the decision on the validity of the time logged and not the perceived quality of work.


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