Dispute Non-Release of a Milestone Payment

While we hope that all freelancer and client relationships and projects will run smoothly, we understand that occasionally you may have a disagreement with a client about the work you submitted and your payments. We encourage you to always try to work things out with your client first. However, if you do need to take further steps, we created Upwork Fixed-Price Protection to allow freelancers and agencies to file disputes under these two circumstances:

  1. A client ends the job with an escrow balance
  2. A client fails to release a milestone payment despite the delivery of work


You have 7 days to accept or reject the client’s request for an escrow refund

To file a dispute on an ended contract

  1. From your find work home page, go to My Jobs and choose All Contracts.
  2. Find the contract and select See Request.
  3. Choose the option I do not approve of this request and wish to file a dispute.
  4. Select Next.
  5. Specify your reason for the dispute and give details to support your claim that the work is complete and that your payment is due. Explain the situation with enough information to enable the dispute specialist to understand your claim.
  6. Choose Continue and review what it means to initiate a dispute. If you agree, choose Continue to Dispute..


You can also access the escrow refund request from your notifications or messages.

To file a dispute on an active contract

  1. Contact Upwork Customer Support
  2. Give details to support your claim that the work is complete and your payment is due. Explain the situation with enough information to help the dispute specialist understand your claim.
  3. Our customer service agent will open a case with one of our mediation specialists to review your situation.

Access your disputes

Once a dispute is submitted, you may review or update the request by following these steps:

  1. Log into your Upwork account
  2. Go to the Help Center. (From the find work home page, choose the question mark (?) near the top right corner of the page.)
  3. Choose the person icon on the top right and select “Disputes”



Under Upwork Fixed-Price Protection, disputes enter a mediation process with an Upwork mediation specialist. Your specialist will work with both parties towards a resolution. If your client is unresponsive to contact attempts, we will notify you of the outcome of your dispute.

Talent and clients are usually able to reach an agreement. However, if you and your client are unable to reach an agreement during the mediation period, the mediation specialist will make a non-binding recommendation. If you or the client reject that recommendation, the final option is to proceed to binding arbitration (meaning the decision of the arbitrator will be final) by the American Arbitration Association, which is a neutral third-party organization. There is a fee for arbitration, and the cost is divided between you, the client, and Upwork.

See the Upwork Escrow Fixed-Price Instructions for more details, including the Escrow Dispute Assistance Policy.

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