We are changing the way Direct Contracts work on Upwork.

You will still be able to create Direct Contracts and send contract proposals to clients who aren't on Upwork yet, but with the following changes:

  • Existing contracts will automatically close on April 22, 2024. If you want to continue working with your DIrect Contracts client, you will need to start a new contract. Rates on existing contracts will remain the same until they close
  • You’ll pay a 5% freelancer service fee on the earnings you make on these contracts. This is lower than our standard freelancer service fee of 10%, and we’ve eliminated the 3.4% payment processing fee. This means the only fee you will pay is a 5% freelancer service fee on your earnings
  • The clients you invite will also be asked to create an Upwork account. This will allow you to access these contracts alongside your regular Marketplace contracts. Clients will also pay our contract initiation fee and marketplace fee, in addition to the project’s cost

Learn more about how a new Direct Contract will work below.

We developed Direct Contracts to give you an easy way to invoice and receive payments from your clients who do not have an Upwork account.

Since you already know these clients, the process usually goes smoothly. However, we understand that issues still may occur. That’s why we provide certain dispute options for you and your client.

Fixed-price contracts

For fixed-price contracts, you can file a dispute if a client has canceled a contract without payment, has ended the contract without paying the full amount in escrow, or has failed to release a milestone payment despite the delivery of work.

We recommend that you contact the client first and try to resolve the issue, but be sure to make sure you don’t miss the window to file a dispute. You have 7 days after the contract cancellation to do so. Learn how to file a dispute on a fixed-price contract.

Hourly contracts

Freelancers cannot file disputes on hourly contracts. However, you can respond if your client disputes your hours. You have three days to respond to an hourly dispute, so be sure not to miss that window.

Clients can file a dispute if they do not agree with the hours you invoiced for the previous week while working on their project. They can only dispute the previous week’s hours. If they dispute, we’ll 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.

Remember that if you work more hours than you and the client agreed to set as a maximum per week in the contract, your client can decline those extra hours. You can’t dispute that non-payment.

Learn more about hourly disputes and how to respond if a client disputes your hours.


Bonus payments are not placed in escrow and can’t be disputed.

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