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, we will pause your contract and set the contract’s weekly limit to zero. If you wish to resume working on the contract following the outcome of the dispute, please discuss resuming the contract with your client.

You can choose to decline or accept the dispute, but it is important that you respond. We’ll wait three calendar days for a response. 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.

To respond to and review your dispute

  1. Go to My Jobs › All Contracts (select the Include closed contracts checkbox, if necessary)
  2. Find the job with the dispute and select See dispute
  3. You’ll see the dispute details, including the timeline to take action. If you accept the dispute, you’ll release the funds back to the client. If you decline the dispute, a dispute specialist will step in to investigate and resolve the dispute within one business day.
  4. Fill out the form and Submit
  5. If your logged hours meet Hourly Payment Protection requirements, you will get paid according to the weekly billing cycle

If you decline the dispute

  • We will review your Work Diary to evaluate the disputed hours against the criteria of Upwork Hourly Protection within one business days.
  • If all disputed hours are found to meet the criteria of Upwork Hourly Protection, we will pay you according to the usual weekly billing cycle.
  • If any of the disputed hours do not meet the criteria of Upwork Hourly Protection, we will refund the hours that are non-compliant to the client.

If you accept the dispute

  • We refund all of your disputed hours to your client.

Note: If your client cancels the dispute, we will pay you the disputed hours according to the usual weekly billing cycle.

For agencies

If you’re in an agency and your client files a dispute against you, we will notify both you and your agency manager. You can both respond to the dispute. Regardless of who responds first, we will require the agency manager to participate in the consultation with an Upwork dispute specialist. Excessive disputes against an agency's freelancers may result in suspension of the agency as a whole.


You can help protect yourself from disputes by making sure that the hours you document are accurate and reflect work for the correct client. Be sure to review your hours each week at the end of the work week, so that you can correct any errors before we bill your client.


The hourly dispute process only pertains to hourly contracts, and reviewing a freelancer’s Work Diary is the primary criteria for understanding whether time worked qualifies for Upwork Hourly Protection. However, Upwork retains the right to withhold payment on any contract if a user is in violation of the Upwork Terms of Service.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get an update on my dispute?

You can see what the status of your dispute is by going to Jobs > All contracts and selecting the relevant job. Then select view dispute.

Do disputes impact my Job Success Score (JSS)?

Yes, repeated disputes can have an impact on your JSS.

What if I don’t respond to a dispute?

If you don’t respond to a dispute within three calendar days, we will investigate the issue and you’ll be paid for hours eligible for Hourly Payment Protection. However, your response is important as it can help our dispute specialists.

I want to give my client part of their funds back. How?

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.

Why were funds returned to the client?

Our dispute specialists found that your hours did not qualify for Hourly Payment Protection. That means you may have logged excessive hours, manual hours, engaged in Work Diary abuse, or logged activity that wasn’t relevant to the project.

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