To help you keep projects organized, Upwork offers milestones for fixed-price jobs. You can use milestones to divide your fixed-price job into a series of phases, due dates, or deliverables based on your needs. Milestones are individually funded and provide a way to work through a large project in smaller steps.
For a successful start, you and your freelancer or agency should discuss, and agree upon, all milestone amounts, ($5 minimum) deliverables, and deadlines prior to beginning work. You can discuss all potential milestones during the interview phase, or you can create additional milestones as the contract progresses.
You can also add, edit, delete, and rearrange any unfunded milestones with the "Add or Edit Milestones" button on your contract page. To rearrange them, simply drag and drop the milestones with the toggle on the left.
Over the course of the contract, your freelancer will submit work for milestones for your review. You’ll have 14 days to either request changes or approve the work.The funds you deposited in escrow will be released upon your approval of the work, or within 14 days if you take no action.
If you would like your freelancer to edit their submitted work, it is important to mark Request Changes on the contract in Upwork. You’ll also have the option to release a different amount of money (less or more) for a given milestone — it’s important to us to give you the flexibility you need to adapt to project changes as they come up.
If you and your freelancer decide to end a fixed-price contract without releasing the remaining funds held in escrow, you can request an escrow refund.
Failing to respond to a milestone submission within 14 days is considered to be approval and the escrowed funds will be automatically released to your freelancer or agency.
Best Practice: Setting Milestone Expectations
For each milestone, you’ll detail exactly what your freelancer or agency agreed to provide in return for the funds you will deposit in escrow. This way, both you and your freelancer know what deliverables are expected, the deadline for deliverables, and that the funds are there for when it is time to pay them.
Be as specific as you can in setting expectations. This is your chance to formalize the agreement about what is to be delivered, when, and for how much money. For advice on structuring milestones, check out the video below and this article in our Hiring Headquarters.
You may only fund one milestone at a time, with a $5 minimum per milestone. Funds must be released on the current milestone before the next one can be activated and funded. You can choose to release a partial payment (including if you set the milestone at the $5 minimum), any remaining funds can be used to fund the next milestone, or you can request an escrow refund for the remaining amount.
You cannot change the order of active milestones. However, you can edit upcoming milestones or release a partial payment (including if you set the milestone at the $5 minimum payment) for a milestone and use any remaining funds towards the next milestone.
When work is submitted for a milestone, you have the option to request changes if the work does not meet the requirements set out in the milestone. If you end a fixed-price contract and there are funds still in escrow, you can request a refund.
The freelancer or agency will then have seven days to respond to the refund request. If they approve the refund or fail to respond within the seven days, the money in escrow will be returned to you. The freelancer or agency can also dispute the refund if they feel a refund is not warranted. If this happens, the Upwork dispute resolution team will work with you to try to resolve the matter.
Payments to escrow will be returned to you if the contract offer is withdrawn or not accepted. You can check the status by going to Reports › Transactions.
The due date of an active milestone cannot be changed. However, you and your freelancer can agree to change the due dates of upcoming milestones. Upwork does not impose any negative consequences for working beyond a milestone due date.
- Add and Edit Milestones
- Review a Milestone
- End a Fixed-Price Contract
- Get an Escrow Refund
- Escrow for Fixed-Price Jobs