An international community of professionals, agencies, and clients rely on Upwork to help deliver quality opportunities and talent matches with full peace of mind. Our platform operates with dedicated trust and safety checks to help protect every user from fraud, theft, intimidation, and spam.
Keeping working relationships on the Upwork platform is essential in order to maintain transparency, accurate information, payment protection and dispute assistance.
Why can’t I get paid directly?
When relationships are moved outside of Upwork—something called circumvention—it undermines user experiences, our ability to attract quality clients and talent to create new opportunities and matches, and the strength of the marketplace as a whole. Because of this, circumvention is a serious violation of our Terms of Service unless you pay the Conversion Fee. The conversion fee enables Upwork to continue to provide the user experience and safe platform that our customers expect.
We enforce a zero-tolerance circumvention policy to ensure that Upwork is a place for both talent and clients to thrive and earn, while preventing breaches of trust that put the community at risk.
Circumvention damages user experience both on and off the platform. Users outside of Upwork risk being exposed to fraud, abuse, and harassment without any recourse because their relationship is not covered by Upwork’s protections.
On the platform, users lose trust through transparency. Any relationship taken outside of Upwork will not result in client or freelancer reviews, which provide valuable information to all platform users. It also impacts Upwork’s algorithms, disrupting accuracy and efficiency for everyone.
What is circumvention?
Circumvention is when a client and freelancer meet on Upwork, but then conduct their relationship outside of Upwork by sending payment through another means without paying the Conversion Fee. Circumvention is a serious violation of the Terms of Service and is laid out in Section 7 of the User Agreement.
There are three exceptions to this rule, when moving a relationship outside of Upwork does not count as circumvention:
- The Upwork Conversion Fee has been paid for the relationship.
- A relationship that started outside the platform, comes onto Upwork, and is then taken outside the platform. This includes Bring Your Own.
- Relationships that have been maintained for two years or more on the platform.
Violating the non-circumvention clause of the Terms of Service will result in loss of the ability to use Upwork (account suspension). Also, violators can be charged the associated Conversion Fee for that relationship.
When your relationship is taken outside of Upwork, we will no longer be able to offer any support, including customer service, payment protection, dispute resolution services, etc. Any issues that arise with payments, quality of work, deadlines, etc., must be resolved without our assistance.
If not resulting from paying the Conversion Fee, there are two other exceptions to the Upwork Circumvention Policy.
- Relationships that started outside the platform, come onto Upwork, and are then taken outside the platform. These include existing partnerships or business relationships that may have added Upwork services at a later time, participants in Bring Your Own or Direct Contracts, and similar.
- Relationships that have been maintained for two years on the platform may be taken outside of Upwork without payment of the Conversion Fee. Note that these relationships don’t need to be continuously active, and are not limited by a certain quantity of projects.
If you qualify for one of these exceptions, you may work together outside of Upwork. If you reach out to the Upwork team, we can update your account accordingly.
In general, the fee is 12% of the freelancer’s estimated annual income based on hourly rate, with the minimum fee being $1,000 and the maximum set at $50,000. The hourly rate we use to calculate the fee will be the greater of these:
- The freelancer’s hourly rate on any Upwork hourly project
- The freelancer’s proposed hourly rate for any hourly contract on Upwork
- The hourly rate the freelancer lists on their profile
Our team will calculate the fee for you and answer any questions so you can determine the best option for you. Just let us know how we can help.
You can contact us through a dedicated email address, email@example.com.