Milestones are a way to divide your fixed-price job into a series of deliverables based on your needs. They let you break a larger contract into more manageable chunks.
You and your freelancer or agency should discuss and agree upon all milestone amounts, 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.
Over the course of the contract, your freelancer or agency will submit milestones for review and the funds in escrow will be released upon your approval. Failing to respond to a milestone submission within 14 days is deemed approval and the escrowed funds will be automatically released to your freelancer or agency.
Therefore, it is important to mark Request Changes on the contract in Upwork if you would like your freelancer or agency to edit their submitted work. You will also have the option to release a different amount of money (less or more) for a given milestone.
Setting Milestone Expectations
Best Practice: 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 parties know what deliverables are expected, the deadline for deliverables, and how much you will pay for them. Be as specific as you can. This is your chance to formalize the agreement between you and your freelancer or agency about what is to be delivered, when, and for how much money. For advice on structuring milestones, check out the below video and this article in our Hiring Headquarters.
You may only fund one milestone at a time. 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, any remaining funds can be used to fund the next milestone, or you can request an escrow refund for the remaining amount.
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 a milestone cannot be changed. However, you and your freelancer or agency can agree to change the due date. 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