To help keep you protected when you make Upwork your home for work, we offer Hourly Payment Protection. This protects freelancers and agencies that work and bill for hours that qualify.

How to make sure you qualify for Hourly Payment Protection


To qualify for Hourly Payment Protection, you must:

  • Have an hourly contract
  • Have an ID Verification Badge
  • Work with a client who is using a verified billing method
  • Use an Upwork account in good standing
  • Log your hours with the Upwork Desktop App
  • Have contract-related activity in your Work Diary
  • Update your Work Diary with memos or activities labels that describe the activity performed
  • Maintain adequate and fair activity levels
  • Stay within the contract's weekly limit

What doesn’t qualify for Hourly Payment Protection


Only qualifying hours are protected. The following do not qualify for Hourly Payment Protection:

  • Time segments in the Work Diary that don’t meet all of the qualification criteria. We exclude segments that are:
    • Added manually
    • Idle or empty
    • Over the weekly limit
    • Showing you engaged in non-work-related activity
    • Missing memos or have inadequately described memos
  • Payment for anything other than qualifying hours are not protected, including:
    • Manual payments, including milestones, bonuses, and other one-time payments
    • Advanced recurring weekly payments not based on hours billed
    • Payments from clients who haven’t verified their billing method
    • Freelancers or contracts in violation of the Upwork Terms of Service (TOS)
    • Instances in which you are aware of, or complicit in, another user's violation of our TOS
    • Instances in which you are involved in fraudulent activities
    • Abuse of the Hourly Payment Protection program

What happens if a dispute is filed


Clients can file a dispute if they do not agree with the hours that you invoiced for the previous week while working on their project. If your client files an hourly dispute, you should:

  • Stop working: We will pause your contract and set the contract’s weekly limit to zero. If you wish to resume working on the contract after the dispute is settled, discuss resuming the contract with your client
  • Respond to the dispute: You have three days to decline or accept the dispute, and it is important that you respond. Learn how to here. If you don’t respond, we’ll investigate and protect any hours that qualify for Hourly Payment Protection. Any funds acquired outside Hourly Payment Protection may be lost. If you and your client decide that some of the funds should be returned, you can issue a refund and your client may decide to withdraw the dispute.

Hourly Payment Protection is subject to the terms and conditions outlined in the Upwork Terms of Service and Hourly Escrow Instructions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why was a refund sent to my client?

When the hours you logged don't qualify for Hourly Payment Protection and the client files a dispute, a refund may be issued. You’ll receive two emails: one letting you know about the refund and another with more details on your specific case.

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