Review and pay for fixed-price contracts and milestones

Do your process or steps look a little different than below?

We’re improving the process to make paying easier, and you may see different variations as we develop and test improvements.


When your freelancer or agency submits work for your approval on a fixed-price contract, you have 14 days to review it. This is your chance to review and accept or request changes from the freelancer. If you do not take action within that time, that’s considered approval, and we automatically release the funds to the freelancer or agency.

Milestones


Fixed-price contracts are often divided into milestones to help keep projects organized. Milestones outline the work you expect at a specific checkpoint and how much you’ll pay for it.

When a freelancer submits work for a milestone, you need to review it within 14 days and either accept and pay or request changes.

The due date of a milestone deliverable cannot be changed, but you and your freelancer can agree to work past it. You and your freelancer control your project timeframes, so the platform enables you and the freelancer to submit work and pay on a milestone beyond the due date. The freelancer may also submit work and request payment earlier than the milestone due date.

Please note:

You can fund one milestone at a time. Funds must be released on the current milestone before you can activate and fund the next one. You cannot change the order of active milestones; however, you can choose to release a partial payment, along with a reason for the underpayment, or to pay more with a bonus. If you pay a partial payment, you can use any remaining funds to fund the next milestone or request an escrow refund for the remaining amount. However, your freelancer or agency may file an escrow dispute if you refuse to release funds for a completed milestone.

Review and pay for work


You and your freelancer should decide how you'd like to exchange files and deliverables. Depending on the size and nature of the files and deliverables you need to exchange and any associated security considerations, you could share files using your contract’s workroom, in Messages, or any third-party solution.

Either way, your freelancer can still request payment for the contract or milestone through the workroom by choosing the Submit Work button. When they do, you’ll see a Review & Pay button. However, you don’t have to wait for the freelancer. If you have reviewed the work and are ready to pay, you can choose the Pay Now button to release payment.

Here’s a summary of how these two processes work:

Review & pay:

Go to My Jobs or your dashboard, locate the contract, and choose Review & pay.

You’ll see any deliverables your freelancer has included in their workroom submission. Review the work, whether it is in the workroom or you received it elsewhere, and be sure you’re satisfied before you make payment. Remember that the 14-day review period starts automatically when the freelancer submits.

You can also request changes from the workroom. If you do, the payment will not be released until the freelancer resubmits the work and you’ve had a chance to review again. When the freelancer submits the revised work, a new 14-day review window starts.

Pay now:

Before you pay, review the work that the freelancer submitted outside of the workroom, and be sure you’re satisfied before you make payment. If you need to request changes, you’ll need to communicate that to your freelancer through whatever communication methods you are using. You won’t have the option to request changes in the workroom, since the freelancer hasn’t submitted anything there.

If you’re ready to pay, go to My Jobs or your dashboard, locate the contract, and choose Pay now.

My Jobs

 

Options when reviewing and paying for work


When you review a freelancer’s work and release payments for a fixed-price contract, you have several options. You can pay the exact amount of the contract or milestone, more or less than the contract or milestone amount, or request changes. Select a drop-down heading below to see the steps for a specific option:

Approve and release payment for the exact amount

If you’re completely satisfied with the work submitted, you should approve the work and release the payment to your freelancer or agency. Note that for the first milestone of a contract, this will also release the contract initiation fee.

When work or a payment request is submitted through the workroom:

  1. Select the contract from Jobs > My Jobs or your dashboard and choose Review & pay
  2. From the milestone timeline in the Overview tab, choose Approve payment
  3. A modal will open with payment details. Choose Pay Now
  4. Choose Send Payment

When you receive work outside the workroom, and the freelancer has not requested payment through the workroom:

  1. Select the contract from Jobs > My Jobs or your dashboard and choose Pay now
  2. Choose Pay
  3. Choose Send Payment

Best practice:

Release funds only when the work submitted is complete and satisfactory. Releasing funds from escrow (including by not responding for 14 days) is consent to pay the freelancer or agency for their work. If you release funds before work is submitted, or before you are satisfied with it, you cannot dispute the payment through Upwork. If you aren’t satisfied with the work, request changes instead of approving the milestone.

Release more than the full amount

Sometimes freelancers go above and beyond, and you’d like to reward that. To pay more than your escrow deposit, add a "bonus" when you approve a milestone or contract payment. Bonuses are additional payments and are not paid out of your existing escrow balance.

When work or a payment request is submitted through the workroom:

  1. Select the contract from Jobs > My Jobs or your dashboard and choose Review & pay
  2. From the milestone timeline in the Overview tab, choose Approve payment
  3. Choose Pay Now
  4. Select the Add a bonus checkbox and enter an amount
  5. Choose Send Payment

When you receive work outside the workroom, and the freelancer has not requested payment through the workroom:

  1. Select the contract from Jobs > My Jobs or your dashboard and choose Pay now
  2. From the milestone timeline in the Overview tab, choose Approve payment
  3. Choose Pay now
  4. Select the Add a bonus checkbox and enter an amount
  5. Choose Send Payment

Note that for the first milestone on a new contract, sending a payment will also release the contract initiation fee.

Best practice:

Release funds only when the work submitted is complete and satisfactory. Releasing funds from escrow (including by not responding for 14 days) is consent to pay the freelancer or agency for their work. If you release funds from escrow before work is submitted, or before you are satisfied with it, you cannot dispute the payment through Upwork. If you aren’t satisfied with the work, request changes instead of approving the milestone.

Release less than the full amount

You can also release a partial milestone payment.

When work or a payment request is submitted through the workroom:

  1. Select the contract from Jobs > My Jobs or your dashboard and choose Review & Pay
  2. From the milestone timeline in the Overview tab, choose Approve payment
  3. Choose Pay Now
  4. Choose the pencil icon and enter the amount to be released
  5. Choose Send Payment

When you receive work outside the workroom, and the freelancer has not requested payment through the workroom:

  1. Select the contract from Jobs > My Jobs or your dashboard and choose Pay Now
  2. From the milestone timeline in the Overview tab, choose Approve payment
  3. Choose Pay Now
  4. Select the pencil icon and enter the amount to be released.You can also describe why the amount is less than the milestone amount
  5. Choose Send Payment

Note that on a new contract, once you release any part of the escrow fund for payment to the freelancer, you will not be able to get a refund of the contract initiation fee to Upwork.

Request changes

If submitted work is incomplete or does not meet the requirements of the milestone, you can ask your freelancer to update it and resubmit.

When work or a payment request is submitted through the workroom:

  1. Select the contract from Jobs > My Jobs or your dashboard and choose Review & pay
  2. Choose the Request Changes button
  3. Write a message describing the changes needed and choose Send Change Request

When you receive work outside the workroom, and the freelancer has not requested payment through the workroom:

  • You’ll need to communicate the change you need to the freelancer through whatever communication methods you’re using. You won’t have the option to request changes in the workroom.

If the work is not going as planned and you wish to end the contract without additional payment, you can cancel the contract and request an escrow refund. Your freelancer or agency will then have seven days to respond to the request. If they approve the refund or fail to respond within the seven days, the money in escrow will be returned to you.

Note:

Your freelancer or agency may file an escrow dispute if you refuse to release funds for a completed milestone. If you do not respond to the dispute in seven days, funds will be released to the freelancer or agency.

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