re: "They're getting around it by posting it as a fixed price project, but then specifying in the description that this is the monthly fee for 40 hours of work per week. It seems to be a bit of a flaw in the system."
It is never appropriate to try to mix the fixed-price contract model with the hourly contract model. These are two separate things.
As a practical matter, there may be no practical way to completely prevent a client and freelancer from willfully using the Upwork interface to enter into an arrangement that does so, which is essentially an attempt to circumvent the system.
But it is right to report jobs such as this as inappropriate.
And it is pretty much never a good idea for any freelancer to agree to a job in which a client asks her to do something that combines fixed-price with hourly contract concepts.
Christine, I'm sorry we made it so difficult for you to communicate your issue here. There have been so many threads about why clients aren't required to follow minimum wage laws that I'm afraid the reaction has become a bit programmed.
Thanks Tiffany. I usually just ignore dodgy clients and low-priced projects and get on with my work, but this particular case seemed so very wrong and deliberately unethical that I couldn't just let it go. It seems like there ought to be SOME standards around here! Here's hoping that Valeria can sort it out.
I found this thread, too, because I saw several posting that ARE illegal for Germany, i.e. -- looking for someone more than 20 hours / week on a permanent basis with a permanent contract; payed hourly, working in Germany, IS illegal below minimum wage, because we have laws against working for one customer only but as a freelancer, one would HAVE TO become an employee.
But people want to have German people (living there) working for them at Asian rates ... that IS illegal.
(On the other hand, when I post a small one time freelance job as someone from a Western country, I get offers from people from India for 1/2 work at a rate which would feed their whole family 1 month in their country!!)
I really wonder which legal framework / laws apply to UpWork.
I have had almost bad experiences on this platform only. Also for highly qualified work for people from Western countries, who want to pay lower rates than they would usually get.
I had offered 1/2 !! of my usual rate to a potential client in Australia, and for an EXTREMELY short turnover time - 2 days instead of 5 days when using a common calculation method. Still was too expensive, he said.
So, clients accept not so good work from people without experience instead of from experts with experience who get the job done well and fast .... or think that because of books as the "4 hour work week" + stupid inexperienced non-expert !! "digtial nomads" EVERYTHING is to be had from any freelancer nowadays waaay below normal rates?
So, yes, for "normal" Western freelancers it is just a complete waste of time.
There are exceptions, yes. But even then the workflow via Upwork is questionable.
I think that it's illegal to hire someone on a permanent basis for below minimum wage in countries in which such laws apply, regardless of whether it's through a freelance platform or not. BUT, you have to catch them first, and Upwork protects the client's identity so that makes it impossible. But I should think that it would be in Upwork's best interests to ban such projects, because once the person starts working in the client's office, they'll definitely circumvent paying the 20% fee (and won't care if they're banned, since they'll have a full-time job anyway). Did you report these projects?
As for the rest of your post, I'm afraid that it's a waste of time to get upset about low pay on Upwork in general. Some people are willing to work for shockingly low amounts of money (even in America), and others are happy to exploit that - there's nothing we can do about it, unfortunately. I just filter out projects that display the "$" or "$$" symbols when I'm doing a job search.