Using Payment Protection in the Upwork Desktop App

Using Payment Protection in the Upwork Desktop App

Working with someone new, who may be located in a different part of the world, is one of the best perks of remote work.

On Upwork, independent professionals can access a whole new world of opportunities via the global work marketplace. Clients gain access to a global pool of talented professionals.

However, one of the most common remote work concerns both clients and freelancers have is payments. Freelancers want to ensure they receive payment for the work they do. Clients want to know they’re only paying for time spent on their projects

This is where Upwork Payment Protection comes into play. It adds a level of security to payment processing and allows clients and independent professionals to collaborate with peace of mind. With the help of the Upwork desktop app, client-freelancer collaborations on Hourly Contracts become even easier and more secure.

The Upwork Terms of Service goes into all the legal details about Hourly Contracts and Payment Protection. But in case you don’t want to take the time to translate all that legalese, here’s a breakdown of everything you need to know about Payment Protection and the Upwork Desktop App.

In this guide, we dive into what Upwork Payment Protection means for hourly contracts from both the freelancer and client perspectives. We also discuss the criteria for qualifying for Payment Protection as an independent professional. Finally, we help you get started with the Desktop App, the Work Diary, and everything else you need to work and hire securely on Upwork.

What is Upwork Hourly Payment Protection?

Upwork offers Payment Protection for time that’s logged appropriately, with industry-leading security to protect both clients and independent professionals in the work marketplace.

For clients, Payment Protection means your personal and payment information is 100% secure. It also makes payments work more smoothly across borders by allowing you to pay via credit card or PayPal.

Your freelancer will log hours in their Work Diary, and you'll receive one invoice per freelancer each week on Upwork. You can monitor your freelancer's Work Diary to see work-in-progress snapshots and confirm what work is being invoiced to you. Following this, your default billing method will be charged automatically for the balance due.

For freelancers, Payment Protection ensures you get paid for the work you do. You will need to log all hours you work in the Work Diary using the desktop app. Once the weekly billing period is over, the time you log in the Work Diary will be automatically invoiced to the client.

Once the security period within the billing cycle has passed, the funds will become available in your account. Withdrawal methods include ACH direct deposit (in the U.S.), U.S. dollar wire transfer, direct deposit to your local bank (outside the U.S.), Payoneer, PayPal, and others. The availability of payment methods varies by country.

For both clients and freelancers, it’s important to note that payments that take place outside of Upwork lose these protections. Without the built-in tools that support reporting and payment processing on Upwork, clients risk overpaying for services, and freelancers risk being underpaid.

Plus, Upwork's core mission is to create economic opportunities to help people live better lives. To meet that goal, we've created a platform that helps clients and freelancers collaborate by, in part, safeguarding both payments and services. That's why our Terms of Service ask our freelancers and clients alike to engage, communicate, invoice, and pay online using our platform.

How to qualify for Payment Protection

As an independent professional, Payment Protection on Hourly Contracts is an integral part of your experience on Upwork. It’s available to both freelancers and agencies that work and bill for hours that qualify.

Hourly Protection keeps you secure, knowing you’ll get paid on time for your work. For all of your hourly contracts, your clients are automatically invoiced and billed for the hours you log according to the weekly billing cycle. No need to chase up late payments—ever!

To qualify for Hourly Protection, you must:

  • Have an hourly contract
  • Work with a client who is using a verified billing method
  • Use an Upwork account in good standing
  • Log your hours with the Upwork Desktop App
  • Have contract-related activity in your Work Diary
  • Update your Work Diary with memos or activities labels that describe the activity performed
  • Maintain adequate and fair activity levels
  • Stay within the contract's weekly limit

However, please note that some uses don’t qualify for Hourly Protection. For example, if you log time that goes over the weekly limit that you and your client set, it won't be invoiced (the client will need to issue a bonus payment to meet those hours). Similarly, any time you add manually may not be guaranteed. Double-check what qualifies for Hourly Protection (and what doesn’t).

Work diary

Get started: Install the desktop app

The Upwork desktop app is a key tool for working with clients on Upwork. This app lets you track your time, communicate with clients, and use our Zoom video integration for high-quality video calls.

Upwork desktop

Download and install the app:

To get started:

Select the version of the app you need and hit the download button

Upwork desktop Image

  • Save the file to your computer
  • Select the file to begin the installation process:
  • For Windows, open the UpworkSetup.exe file from your Downloads folder
  • For Mac, open UpworkTeam.dmg and drag the Upwork desktop app to your applications folder
  • For Linux, select the file and click Install Package.

Agree to the End-User License Agreement


Log in to the app using your Upwork log in details

Upwork login

  • Once logged in, you will see a list of all your hourly contracts. You can also add your Fixed-Price contracts to the list via Settings.
  • You will also see all your messages with clients on Upwork
  • Frame 1

    Here are the complete instructions on how to install the Desktop App on your device.

    Turn on Hourly Payment Protection

    All Hourly Contracts on Upwork come with Payment Protection built-in. To activate it, all you need to do is make sure you log your time using the desktop app.

    • Select the correct contract
    • Toggle the ON/OFF switch to turn on logging
    • Enter a note about what you’re working on in the memo box and choose an activity label if your client is using activity labels
    Frame 2

    Remember that any time you add manually may not be covered by Payment Protection. So, when you start working, make sure you hit the On switch for the right client within your Desktop App.

    As long as you qualify for Hourly Payment Protection, you’re paid for the hours you work, even if your client fails to pay.

    Learn more about logging your time on Upwork contracts.

    Check your privacy settings

    When you’re tracking time, the app will take six screenshots of your computer screen per hour—once per 10-minute billing segment. These snapshots can be taken at any time when you’re working.

    • Anything visible on your screen will display in your Work Diary to clients
    • You do have the option, in Settings, to choose whether the screen captures your entire desktop or only the active screen
    • You can also choose whether you want to be notified each time a screen capture is taken
    Frame 3

    The app also allows you to include camera screenshots within your Work Diary. This feature is optional and disabled by default. If you choose to enable the camera, snapshots (not video) will be uploaded six times an hour.

    Manage your Work Diary

    The Work Diary is a visual record of the hours you’ve worked on any hourly contract. Every hourly contract has its own Work Diary.

    Why should independent professionals use the Work Diary?

    • Ensures you get paid for the time you work
    • Supports Hourly Protection
    • Fosters greater communication with your clients
    • Details progress on your projects
    • Provides supporting documentation in case of a dispute

    In addition to the six screenshots per hour, the desktop app also logs your activity level by counting the number of mouse clicks, scroll actions, and keystrokes you make as well as receiving information from your operating system about whether you’re active or not.

    The app also records the name of the application you’re using and its active window at the time of the snapshot, to your Work Diary.

    Upwork then plugs your hourly activity and work-in-progress snapshots into the appropriate billing segments in your Work Diary. The memo bars in the Work Diary are color-coded to indicate the status of that billing segment. Their color-coding goes as follows:

    • Green: Auto-tracked time, billable on hourly contracts
    • Yellow: Manual time, billable on hourly contracts
    • Red: Time over the weekly limit agreed with your client, not billable

    You can check your Work Diary in two ways:

    • Click on the link within the Desktop App
    • While logged into the Upwork website, select Work Diary from the My Jobs menu in the top navigation bar

    On the Work Diary page:

    • Choose the contract you want to view
    • Select the date you want to check

    You can also toggle the time zone (your own or UTC) and the time format.

    Update or edit your Work Diary

    You can only add, edit, and delete time on an active contract in the current week’s Work Diary. The previous week’s Work Diary is no longer editable after Monday at noon UTC.

    • Only you (the freelancer) can edit your Work Diary
    • You can’t edit the diary for a closed contract
    • Only time within the weekly limit on an hourly contract will be billed and included in reports

    Note that if you want to add manual time to your diary, you must first have permission from the client.

    Learn more about how to use the Work Diary in this video.

    Delete screenshots if necessary

    Everyone has those moments where you forget the Time Tracker is running for a client, and you start working on something else without turning it off.

    You can delete snapshots from your Work Diary, so your client doesn’t get charged for the time you weren’t working on their project. You have until the end of each billing cycle on Sundays to remove any unwanted screenshots, but this means it won’t be included in your billing invoice.

    This is great for situations where you had to step away from your computer or the screenshot captured something unrelated to your project.

    • By default, your Desktop App notifications are on, and you’ll have the option to remove the screen capture before upload if you’d like to
    • You may also remove screen captures from your Work Diary until the end of the weekly billing cycle
    Screen capture

    Note that if you delete a screenshot, you also delete that time’s segment activity, which means the time will not be billed to your client and you will not be paid for the time.

    Review your freelancer’s Work Diary

    For clients, the Work Diary is a useful tool to monitor your freelancers’ activity and progress on tasks.

    Approximately six times during each hour that a freelancer tracks time, the Time Tracker in the Upwork desktop app automatically uploads a screenshot of their activity, and activity summary, to the Work Diary.

    To view the diary,

    • Go to the Jobs home page
    • Select the contract you wish to view
    • Choose the Timesheets tab

    Once in the Work Diary, you can customize the dates that you want to view.

    The memo bars in the Work Diary are color-coded to indicate the status of that billing segment.

    • Dark blue: Auto tracked time, billable on hourly contracts
    • Light blue: Manual time, billable on hourly contracts
    • Red: Time over the weekly limit agreed with your freelancer. Not billable.

    Learn more about how to read your freelancer’s Work Diary.

    Other important configuration instructions to know

    Finally, here are a few other important things you should know about using the Upwork desktop app.

    • Make sure to verify your client has a payment method in place before you start logging time with the desktop app. Look for a green check mark under the About the Client section on the client’s job posting page.
    • To qualify for Upwork Hourly Protection, you need to accurately describe what you are working on with memos and activity labels
    • Antivirus software, firewalls, and system overloads can sometimes prevent the app from tracking your activity properly

    Check out this support article for troubleshooting advice.

    Also, keep in mind that the app does not record the following:

    • What you click
    • What you type
    • Non-visible information like ***ed-out passwords
    • Lists of applications you use
    • Images or video footage through your webcam (unless you enable the feature)
    • Information about the files you access or inactive applications you may have open (such as with tracking cookies)

    Learn more via Upwork’s Privacy Policy.

    Work and hire securely with Upwork

    Finding work, setting up watertight contracts, sending out invoices, accepting payments from clients around the world—there’s a lot that goes into making sure you get paid for your freelance work. Upwork takes the stress and hassle out of the process. Payment Protection gives you the peace of mind you need to get paid securely and on time.

    Upwork Payment Protection also makes hiring and paying freelancers a smooth, secure, and hassle-free process for clients.

    Ready to find a skilled independent professional for your project? ​​Hire pros with the skills you need today.


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    Author Spotlight

    Using Payment Protection in the Upwork Desktop App
    Radhika Basuthakur
    Content Writer

    Radhika is a self-confessed word nerd and content expert with over 15 years of experience writing content for businesses around the world. She is a cheerleader for flexible work, a passionate world traveler, and spends her free time alternating between a good book and a good hike.

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