Simple & Safe: Hiring Through Upwork

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Building a professional relationship with anyone—let alone a freelancer you’ve never met in person—takes a high degree of trust. Do they have the skills they claim? Will they deliver the work you need?

Just as eBay was revolutionary when it first started connecting shoppers with sellers online, and Airbnb reshaped how travelers look for unique accommodations, Upwork is changing the way people work.

Our marketplace makes it easier for you to connect and work with talent anywhere in the world. Upwork gives you tools to help you search, hire, and process payments efficiently, so that working with freelance talent won’t come with a pile of extra admin.

And Upwork is built with protections at every step. “One of the most important success factors for any online marketplace is trust,” said Elizabeth Tse, Upwork’s SVP of operations. “Clients need to be confident they’ll get the work they want, and freelancers need to know they’re going to get paid for the work they do.”

Five Things You Need to Know About Upwork’s Terms of Service >>


In any given week, more than one million hours are billed by skilled freelancers around the world through Upwork — there’s a good chance you can connect with someone with the talent you need. You can use search filters to help narrow results, as well as skills, experience, and feedback on past projects to find the right freelancer for your projects.

When reviewing freelancer profiles, check out these helpful tools:

  • Upwork statistics. You can see the number of jobs a freelancer has completed through Upwork and the total number of hours billed. More doesn’t necessarily mean better, but it can give you an idea of how in-demand they are.
  • Job Success Score. The Job Success Score provides a quantifiable way to rate the freelancer against their competition. This score takes into account factors such as private and public feedback, long-term relationships, and repeat contracts to generate a balanced marketplace-wide indicator.
  • Unbiased feedback. To encourage fair reviews, neither clients nor freelancers see comments or star ratings until both parties have submitted their feedback or 14 days after a project ends (whichever comes first).
  • Badges. On some freelancer profiles, you’ll find badges for our Top Rated and Rising Talent programs, which recognize freelancers who are talented and either have an excellent reputation on Upwork or are well on their way to establishing one.
  • Work history. This section gives you a sense of a freelancer’s past projects and skills they’ve demonstrated.

TIP: Engaging top talent is a two-way street. The better your impression is on the platform, the easier it is to attract stellar freelancers. Be sure to maintain a high feedback rating from the freelancers you engage through the platform, and keep your own Upwork statistics—like the number of jobs you’ve posted and total amount spent—in mind.

Learn more about how you can find great freelance talent on Upwork >>

Simplify life with less paperwork

Finding the right freelancer is just the first step. Before getting started, you should agree on contract terms. The Service Contract terms in Section 8 of Upwork’s User Agreement automatically cover your engagement. However, you and a freelancer can agree to different contract terms if preferred, as long as they don’t change Upwork’s obligations or restrict Upwork’s rights under the Terms of Service.

As your project moves forward, paying your freelancer and keeping your records up-to-date become important parts of your regular admin. Upwork simplifies this by automating an essential part of the process: Billing and payments.

Projects tracked through Upwork are invoiced automatically and paid easily—you don’t need to add the freelancer to another system.

  • Fixed-price projects are paid by each milestone. You make a deposit in advance that’s paid through escrow once you have approved the work that’s been done.
  • With hourly projects, time tracked using Upwork’s Work Diary is automatically invoiced on a weekly basis.
Screenshot of Upwork project milestones: End payment headaches with one-click payments. In this post, learn how Upwork helps you focus on your job and getting more done. See how we make freelancer time tracking, invoicing, and payment simple and safe.

Upwork helps make freelancer time tracking, invoicing, and payments—such as fixed-price projects (right)—simple and safe.

Every transaction has standardized documentation that’s always there and always available through your Reports dashboard; it won’t get lost or stuck in your spam filter, and a regular schedule can help you stay on top of your budget. If you want to export your information, you can:

  • Download a CSV of your entire transaction history or timesheet data, or
  • Bulk download PDF copies of any invoices issued and paid within a defined 31 day period.

We lend a hand at tax time, too: You shouldn’t be required to file U.S. tax forms for freelancers you pay through the Upwork platform. As explained in our Help Center: “All freelancers must submit information for Form W-9 (US-based) or Form W-8BEN (international) to Upwork and we will file a Form 1099-K, if applicable.”

TIP: Consider whether you’re hiring an independent contractor or an employee. If a worker should be classified as an employee, enrolling them in Upwork Payroll can help keep you in compliance with tax requirements, local employment laws, the ACA (Affordable Care Act), and other regulations.

How can you tell the difference between an independent contractor and an employee? >>

Peace of mind through Upwork payment protection

Both hourly and fixed-price contracts can qualify for Upwork Payment Protection, a program that helps ensure freelancers are paid in a timely way for work they’ve done while also helping protect you.

  • For hourly projects, you can keep your budget in check by setting weekly billing limits.
  • The Work Diary helps you confirm you’re only paying for time spent actively working on your project.
  • For fixed-price projects, funds are put into escrow. You can release payment once you’re satisfied with the work that’s been done.

Quick payments

Financial transactions on Upwork, which are tied to your approval, are automatic once you’re set up. As a client, you need to connect your account to your credit card, bank account, or PayPal account in order to pay freelancers; once this is confirmed, freelancers get peace of mind by seeing that you have a verified billing method.

Freelancers can opt for whichever payment method best suits their needs, including direct deposit, local funds transfer, wire transfer, or options like PayPal or Payoneer. It’s a priority to make sure sending payments or getting paid are quick and painless for everyone on Upwork.

“Dealing with overseas laws and sending money was so complicated. [Before Upwork] I had accounts at 12 different payment services to transfer funds to different countries, different banks, different systems—that’s just too much.”
– Daen Tyler, Upwork client

Dispute resolution

In the rare case you need it, dispute resolution services are available to help solve any differences. Because of the protections built into our marketplace, fewer than half a percent of ended contracts go through the dispute resolution process.

“Dispute assistance is like insurance: You hope to never use it, but it’s reassuring to know you have something to back you up if something does go wrong,” said Jeff Chen, VP of trust & safety at Upwork.

Learn more about Upwork Payment Protection >>

So, why not just hire freelancers on your own?

Two of the biggest benefits to engaging freelancers through Upwork are security and peace-of-mind. Yet sometimes clients and freelancers are tempted to move their relationship off the marketplace. Doing so doesn’t just breach your agreement with Upwork—unless you make the transition within Upwork’s Terms of Service—it leaves both you and the freelancer at risk if something goes wrong.

Going off the platform can lead to a number of different consequences:

No documentation. From having a formal agreement in place, to holding on to your invoice and payment data as well as your work history with individual freelancers, Upwork automatically captures these interactions in one location.

No recourse. Even the best working relationships can run into hurdles, and on Upwork you have backup: Detailed time tracking, Payment Protection, escrow, and dispute assistance are just a few of the benefits that help balance the challenges that can arise with online work. Moving off of Upwork is buyer beware: You lose these checks and balances as well as support from Upwork.

No support from the community. Just as you’re looking for a way to efficiently find the best freelancer for your project, top talent wants to hone in on clients who are a good fit for them. Using Upwork on an ongoing basis, and leaving feedback for the freelancers you work with, helps establish both of your reputations on the Upwork platform.

No access to Upwork. Upwork users place a lot of trust in us, and ensuring people use the website within the Terms of Service is essential to maintaining the secure and professional environment people expect. If you breach those terms, you risk fines as well as account suspension or removal. Even worse, if you cause a freelancer you work with to breach the Terms of Service, you could affect their ability to use the website to find other opportunities.

The Upwork marketplace is a thriving sector of the freelance economy, where you can find, hire, work with, and pay professionals from anywhere in the world. By joining the Upwork community, you help strengthen trust and safety so both clients and freelancers have absolute confidence in the way we work.

Get your project started on Upwork now >>

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Amy Sept

by - Managing Editor, Upwork Blog @amysept

As the managing editor of the Upwork blog, Amy Sept works with regular and guest writers to share information that helps freelancers and businesses navigate… more