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Retired Team Member
Retired Team Member

Stay Safe Online: How circumvention hurts the marketplace and your business

At Upwork, our mission is to create economic opportunities so people have better lives. Alongside this amazing community, my team and I work hard to reduce the risk of working with people you may not know, whether they are right next door or across the world. We can work together to understand the risks and reduce harmful activity on the platform.


What is circumvention? 

Circumvention is when a client and an independent professional ask for, agree to, or conduct their contract payments outside of Upwork. To help you out, we created a detailed table of what circumvention is and what is not. 


Why is It harmful?

  • Missed opportunities: A meaningful way to gain opportunities with your potential client or professional is to show your excellent work history through Upwork’s feedback and the Job Success Score (JSS) system. When you take work outside the platform, you lose the ability to count on those systems. 
  • Increased vulnerability: Fraudsters know that they will be caught by Upwork's safety measures if they spend time on the platform, so they will try to lead you off of it. Leaving the Upwork platform means you also leave behind the protections Upwork provides the community, such as payment protection,  dispute assistance, and more.


What options are there for taking work off the Upwork platform?

We want to be flexible. Although we think Upwork itself is the best choice, there are still options available if you’re going to work beyond it.  

  • If a client and an independent professional who met on Upwork within the last two years would like to work directly together outside of Upwork, they can opt to pay the Upwork Conversion Fee. In most cases, the Conversion Fee is an assessment of 12% of the professional’s estimated annual earnings. You can learn more about the Conversion Fee here.  
  • Clients and professionals whose relationship is two or more years old can decide to work directly outside of Upwork without paying the Conversion Fee or being considered as circumventing the platform. 

One other exception is if the client and professional had a relationship before they worked together on Upwork. In this case, they are free to work directly together at any time because the relationship did not start on Upwork. But this prior relationship must be proven to apply.


What can you do about circumvention?

If another customer asks you to move a contract, provide payment, or receive payment outside of the Upwork platform:

  1. Politely decline.
  2. Flag the person, including all relevant details.

Reporting customers who violate our Terms of Service or behave in suspicious ways is an essential part of ensuring Upwork is a fair, safe, and trustworthy place to get great work done. We know you're on this platform to build valuable relationships and to grow your business, and keeping an eye out for each other is one of the best ways to make sure Upwork continues to be a great place to do so.



If you have any questions about circumvention, please do not hesitate to contact the support team


See more of our Stay Safe series: 

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