Compliance Services

When your company enrolls in compliance services, Upwork determines how a freelancer should be classified (independent contractor or employee) and offers indemnification from misclassification risk. All freelancers engaged under a compliance account have to go through a series of onboarding steps before starting and accepting their contracts.


In general, here’s how the classification determination process works:

  1. Upwork Compliance Team assesses classification, considering relevant factors such as:
    • Freelancer’s location, work history, and business details
    • Description of deliverables and type of work
    • Contract Terms (hourly/fixed-price, payment amount, duration and other factors)
  2. Freelancer may be asked to provide additional documentation to demonstrate their independent business (additional documentation is required less than half of the time)
  3. As needed, questions are answered by your company and the freelancer to provide additional details about the engagement and the Freelancer’s business

In addition to this process, the freelancer may also complete any additional tasks your company requested (like background checks or additional agreements). Every step of the process can be viewed or completed in Freelancers > Onboarding

Work through Upwork may not begin until the classification process is completed and onboarding status is shown as 100% complete. Freelancers classified as independent contractors are engaged by Upwork Talent Group Inc., which serves as the Agent of Record (AOR) for contracting purposes."

Upwork Payroll

If you or the Upwork Compliance Team determine that a worker should be classified as an employee rather than an independent contractor, the worker can be enrolled in Upwork Payroll and become an employee of Upwork’s third-party staffing agency. The staffing agency takes care of all the paperwork and regulatory compliance details. On average, it takes 5-7 business days to complete the entire Upwork Payroll onboarding process. This is a little longer than a typical onboarding for an independent contractor. To pay a worker through Upwork Payroll, you must not start work until the worker is authorized to do so by their employer. Once complete, you’ll seamlessly communicate and pay through Upwork regardless of worker classification status.

Please contact your account rep to discuss pricing and availability. This service is available worldwide for Enterprise clients enrolled in compliance services. Upwork Payroll is also available as a US-only service to all other clients (Enterprise, Pro, and marketplace). Upwork Payroll is generally available only for desk jobs in office environments and is not available for work involving manual labor, heavy equipment, or driving.

Enrolling or Opting Out

Please work with your account rep to determine whether compliance services are right for your company. They can go over pricing and all the options for additional onboarding tasks.

If your company chooses not to enroll, your company will be solely responsible for the worker classification compliance of your freelancers, and all the liability that entails. You will be welcome to upgrade to compliance services at a later date if doing it all self-service becomes too much.

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Upwork Status

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This might be due to no account activity (earnings, payments, contracts, etc.) or because we had to suspend it. When we suspend an account we send an email explaining the reason and whether or not you can take steps to reverse the suspension. Please review that email for more details.

For general questions, you can visit our Community or review our Terms of Service.

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