Upwork Fixed-Price Protection uses escrow to help you get the work you’ve asked for and your freelancer gets paid for work completed. When making a fixed-price offer, you’ll make a deposit to escrow to pre-fund the first milestone of work. Upon receiving and approving that milestone, we release payment to your freelancer.
Define and Pre-fund Milestones
Before any work begins, you and your freelancer will agree on certain work milestones and how much you’ll pay for the completion of each milestone.
- You can define, submit, and pay 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 best practice to allow you and your freelancer to work together and earn each other’s trust before continuing on with the project.
- Before your freelancer starts working on a milestone, you’ll pre-fund the payment for that milestone into an escrow account.
- We collect this escrow deposit to confirm your ability to pay, but payment is dependent on your satisfaction with your freelancer’s work, as provided in the escrow instructions.
To make an offer and set up your first milestone:
- Make a fixed-price contract offer on a freelancer’s submitted proposal or on their profile.
- Make an escrow deposit for the whole contract amount or a smaller milestone.
- Describe the work expected in exchange for the amount deposited so there will be a formal record of what your freelancer is being asked to submit.
Please discuss with your freelancer ahead of time how you’d like any files or other work product delivered to you. Files can be sent using Upwork’s collaboration tools or whatever third-party solutions you prefer. When your freelancer submits a milestone for your approval, it’s important that you have some way to review their work.
Review & Approve a Milestone
You’ll be notified that your freelancer has submitted work for your approval. You must review it in a timely manner and either approve the milestone or ask for changes.
- You have 14 days from the most recent submission on a milestone to review and approve or request changes. Approval releases the payment from escrow to your freelancer.
- If you fail to respond to a submission within 14 days, the escrowed funds are automatically released to your freelancer.
To approve a milestone submission:
- Click the review link in the submission message or go to Freelancers and click the Review & Approve button.
- Review the submitted work.
- Select the Approve option.
- [Optional] Add a bonus or edit the payment amount.
- Click Approve & Pay. The funds will be released to the freelancer (pending the standard security period).
To request changes to a milestone submission:
- You’ll be notified that your freelancer has submitted work for your approval.
- Click the review link in that message or go to Freelancers and click the Review & Approve button.
- Review the submitted work.
- Select the Request Changes option.
- Write a message to your freelancer explaining why you can’t approve the work and what changes are needed.
- Click Send Change Request. Your freelancer will be sent your response immediately.
To create another milestone:
- Go to Freelancers and click the Create Next Milestone link.
- Name the milestone, specify an amount, and describe the work to be done.
- Click the Deposit button. You can set up multiple milestones ahead of time, but the freelancer can only submit one at a time (in order from oldest to newest).
Pay for Work
All escrowed funds are covered by Fixed-Price Protection, but you’ll still have control over payments to your freelancer.
- If you choose to pay less than the specified milestone or total amount, the excess funds will be held over for the next milestone.
- If you choose to pay more than your deposit for extra work or as a bonus, the difference will be charged to your billing method immediately.
- If you refuse to pay for a completed milestone, escrowed funds won’t be released back to you unless your freelancer approves the return or the matter undergoes dispute mediation.
- Your freelancer may also file an escrow dispute if you fail to release funds for a completed milestone.
- Protection won’t cover milestone payments in excess of the amount in escrow, funds from unverified billing methods, or additional amounts that are discussed or promised between you and your freelancer.
- See the Fixed-Price Escrow Instructions for more details, including our Escrow Dispute Assistance Policy.
To receive an escrow refund:
- On the End Contract form, choose to pay another amount less than the milestone total or pay nothing.
- The freelancer will be asked to approve or dispute the return of your deposit.
- If they approve, the funds will be returned to your billing method.
- If they dispute, the case will be reviewed by Upwork.
- If they fail to respond within seven days, the funds will be returned to your billing method automatically.