At Upwork, we know that strong relationships lead to great work. We also know that nothing lays the foundation for a strong work relationship quite like mutual protection. That’s why we offer Upwork Fixed-Price Protection.
Upwork Fixed-Price Protection uses escrow to help ensure that you get paid for the work you do and your clients get the work you’ve agreed to do. Under this program, clients deposit a milestone payment into escrow before you begin working. Upon receiving and approving the work, your client releases the payment to you.
Define and Pre-Fund Milestones
Before any work begins, you and your client will agree on certain work milestones and how much you'll get paid for completing each. This helps set expectations for both of you and lays the groundwork for a positive working experience.
Good things to know:
- You can define, submit, and get paid for one chunk of work at a time, or plan out all milestones ahead of time.
- For larger projects, a small first milestone can be a good way for you and your client to work together and earn each other's trust before continuing on with the project.
- Before you start working on a milestone, your client will pre-fund the payment for that milestone into an escrow account.
- We collect this escrow deposit to confirm your client's ability to pay, but payment is dependent on your client's satisfaction with your work.
- Please note that only the money that's held in escrow is secure. Upwork can't help you collect any funds that have been promised but not deposited into escrow. Therefore, it's important that the amount held in escrow is appropriate for the work you will perform for that milestone. If your client deposits a smaller amount than agreed upon, do not begin work until they have deposited the full amount or you have renegotiated the price and work expectations.
To make sure work progresses smoothly, we recommend that you discuss with your client ahead of time how you'll deliver your files or other work product. Once you have a contract, you can send files using Upwork's collaboration tools or any third-party solutions you prefer.
To submit a milestone for approval
- Go to My Jobs and click Request Milestone Approval
- Write a message to your client describing the completed work
- You can also add an attachment or include a link to the work. This isn't required, but it's important that your client has some way to review your work once you submit it for approval
- Click the Submit Request button. Your client will be notified you have submitted work for their approval. You will be notified when they approve payment or request changes
Review & Approve Milestones
Once you submit your work, your client has 14 days to review and either approve the milestone or ask for changes. If they approve, the funds in escrow will be released to you. If your client takes no action for 14 days, the funds are automatically released to you.
While our goal is to help you build strong relationships, we recognize that sometimes things simply don’t work out. If a client refuses to release funds or requests an escrow refund for a milestone that you’ve completed, you can file an escrow dispute. The disputed funds will remain in escrow until a resolution is reached. To learn more about the escrow dispute process, click here.
IMPORTANT: If you re-submit a milestone — for example, if you made changes that the client requested — the review and approval process resets. Your client will have 14 days from the time you re-submitted the milestone to approve it.
Payment timing can be impacted by internal processing.
Qualifying for Fixed-Price Protection
All escrowed funds are covered by Fixed-Price Protection. Some exceptions include:
- Milestone payments in excess of the amount in escrow
- Funds from clients without a verified billing method
- Additional amounts that are discussed or promised between you and your client but not made official in the contract
See the Fixed-Price Escrow Instructions for more details, including our Escrow Dispute Assistance Policy
Track Fixed-Price Contracts
Like all other contracts, fixed-price contracts can be tracked using the Upwork Desktop App.
To turn on tracking for fixed-price contracts
- Select the Settings option from the menu
- Select the Advanced option from the menu
- Turn on Track Time on Fixed-Price Projects
Important: Time logged on fixed-priced contracts is for tracking purposes only and will not be counted toward your total work hours displayed on your profile.