In certain scenarios, it makes sense for a freelancer to be treated more like an employee than a freelancer. In other cases, that differentiation is a legal requirement. Our Upwork Compliance Team is here to help.

The Upwork Compliance Team assesses a number of factors required by law. These include:

  • Freelancer’s location, work history, and business details
  • Expected deliverables and type of work
  • Contract terms (hourly or fixed-price, payment amount, duration, and other factors)
  • Whether the client needs to control when, where, or how the work is done

These determinations, and others, indicate whether a client-freelancer relationship needs an updated contract to accommodate a change in worker classification.

Client expectations

In extending an updated contract, you may be asked to answer a number of questions to confirm whether you will treat the freelancer as an independent contractor for that project.

As a general rule, most laws consider whether the client will retain the right to determine or control when, where, or how the work is done. To classify a freelancer as an independent contractor, a client should be willing to rely on the freelancer’s expertise to get the project done without instruction or supervision. For more details, read Employee vs. IC? Compliance at a Glance.


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. You will continue to communicate directly with the freelancer on the project.

Freelancer expectations

A freelancer may be asked to provide additional documentation to demonstrate their independent business (additional documentation is required less than half of the time).

You can require that the freelancer complete additional tasks, like background checks or additional agreements, before accepting the contract offer.

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