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Hourly contracts and arbitration

Ace Contributor
Amy M Member Since: Jul 3, 2015
1 of 11


I've searched the forum and read the Upwork materials on disputes but it is still a little ambiguous. Do hourly disputes go to arbitration?  This is after the weekly hours process passes and when they dispute again in the 30 days after the last payment.  Will the client be able to opt for arbitration if I refuse to refund my hours?  It obviously sucks that there are actually 2 ways to dispute you on the hourly contracts, despite what Upwork likes to say.  Even after they approve your hours the client can still file another dispute and ask you again to refund just so everyone knows.  I'm not afraid of arbitration, just the price tag and having to drag this out.  It would make it 3 disputes essentially if it goes to arbitration over 9 hours of work plus 291 dollars.   


One good thing is that they seem to be letting us talk more about the dispute process now.  I think this message before would have been deleted on the grounds we are not supposed to talk about disputes.  


Community Guru
Jennifer M Member Since: May 17, 2015
2 of 11

No, hourly is all about the tracker and tracking time. No arbitration with those contracts.

Ace Contributor
Amy M Member Since: Jul 3, 2015
3 of 11

The weird thing is they already approved my hours in the weekly process, (so I won), but the client disputed again and now I have to defend myself again.  I was worried this means I am getting dragged into arbitration too. Her complaints are quality-related and she thinks that after commenting on my first draft the revisions should not have been billed.  But she gave me new instructions after reading the first draft, and at least in my experience revisions on hourly contracts are generally paid. I didn't go over the hours on the contract or anything.  In fact, I am a little under and after the client freaked on me (not really, actually she is meticulously nice to me considering we have 2 disputes open on this same contract, which makes me think maybe she is playing the system) I worked 3 or so hours on it off the clock trying to make her happy, so...

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
4 of 11

Amy, I am glad that the client was polite. But I think this client’s behavior was horrendous.


She is mixing fixed-price concepts with hourly contract concepts. She appears to not understand or not respect the meaning of an hourly contract.


I wish Upwork dispute personnel would have the wherewithal to explain how hourly contracts work when they talk to clients.


Hang in there.

Ace Contributor
Amy M Member Since: Jul 3, 2015
5 of 11

I agree Preston, that is what is happening essentially. She says I told her it would take 10 hours but I said I would check in with a first draft at 10 hours.  She's hired a lot of freelancers in the past so I don't believe it's that she doesn't understand... She has great reviews and then a few who seem to have had the same experience as me. I almost didn't take it, in fact, I tried at first to say I was too busy for how urgent it was but she said she would wait and it was an invite. I guess like everyone says I should have followed that first instinct. She is nice and she seems smart. But she obviously understands the dispute process really well and I think she is trying to bully me down to my "10-hour promise."      

Ace Contributor
Amy M Member Since: Jul 3, 2015
6 of 11

Jennifer, thanks, I would totally accept this as a solution but I noticed when I searched in the forum that someone basically asked the same question and I think it was Kathy who gave your same response and then it was crickets on the part of the Upwork moderators.  So I want to see if one of them will chime in on this.  Otherwise, you totally deserve the solution author on this Smiley Happy 

Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
7 of 11

Amy M wrote:

... I think it was Kathy who gave your same response and then it was crickets on the part of the Upwork moderators.  So I want to see if one of them will chime in on this.

There is no need for any moderators to chime in, there is categorically no arbitration for hourly contracts and if the parties don't agre to the mediation suggestion, they are on their own.


You can read up on it under 7.2 here

Active Member
Maxym F Member Since: Dec 5, 2019
8 of 11

Dear, Jennifer


Please check this.

The freelancer added all manual hours.

The client ended the contract and the freelancer already withdrew all the money.

The client filed a dispute within 30 days from the last payment.

The freelancer and client had no agreement with the refund.


1. In that case, what will the Upwork mediation team do?

2. If the client doesn't agree with the mediation result, can he go to arbitration with the fee?


Please answer those 2 questions clearly.

Best regards.

Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
9 of 11

re: "The freelancer added all manual hours... If the client doesn't agree with the mediation result, can he go to arbitration with the fee?"


As far as I understand it, the arbitration process offered by Upwork is NOT used with hourly contracts. There is no opportunity to pay a $291 fee and have an hourly contract reviewed and decided upon by a third-party arbitrator.

Avery O Moderator Member Since: Nov 23, 2015
10 of 11

Hi Amy, 

I'm sorry to learn that you have an ongoing issue with a client regarding hours that were logged a few weeks ago. Please also know that we allow open discussion about disputes here in the Community. However, discussions that do not meet the Upwork Terms of Service, and the Upwork Community Guidelines, wlll be edited, or removed, if proven to be in violation. We always recommend for users to refrain from sharing too much information in the Community as this is a public Community. And to comply with our privacy policy, we will be unable to discuss details of a dispute here. 


On this thread, Valeria has noted information about Hourly Mediation, which I would also like to add here: 
"Clients may request mediation assistance by contacting Upwork Support within 30 days of the last payment on a contract. The Mediation Team will work with both users to resolve the dispute. If no agreement can be reached, the Mediation Agent will review the last 30 days of logged time. Upwork will authorize payment of all hours that meet the criteria for Hourly Payment Protection The freelancer may refund the  hours for work that does not clearly relate to the client’s project, or they must reach another agreement with the client with respect to those hours."


I am editing this section of my post to reflect updated information about Hourly Disputes as flagged by Petra. Amy, you may refer to Section 7.2 Upwork Dispute Assistance of the Hourly, Bonus, and Expense Payment Agreement with Escrow Instructions. In this section it is stated that - 
Non-binding dispute assistance (“Dispute Assistance”) is available within 30 days of the date of the last release of funds from Client to Freelancer. If Client or Freelancer contacts Upwork via support ticket within 30 days of the date of the last payment from Client to Freelancer and requests non-binding dispute assistance for any dispute among them (a “Dispute”), Upwork will attempt to assist Client and Freelancer by reviewing the Dispute and proposing a mutual, non-binding resolution. Upwork will only review the 30 days of work performed prior to the date a User requests Dispute Assistance.


In this case, the purpose of the mediation is to be able to facilitate the discussion between you, and your client, and help both parties come to a mutual agreement. You may also want to refer to this article in the Terms of Service for more information about mediation on hourly contracts. If you have further concerns about your case, you may update your open ticket, and the team will assist you further.