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How to Report Employers Who Lure Freelancers in to Do Free Work?

So here's this employer I had the bad fortune to engage with? They said because they are not sure if a freelancer is a good fit so they are asking all the shortlisted candidates to do a free trial. The work was to set up a campaign within their Google Ads account, do some keyword research, and create a few ads -- Can easily take more than one hour of an experienced SEM guy. And if you are an expert in this space, you can easily charge over $200 for the creative work they got from each freelancer.


Guess what, the employer initially said that my text ad was really good. Then they came back and said they couldn't hire me because of quality and other reasons. This employer got about 5 qualified freelancers to do the same work within their Google Ads account and so they got free ad copy, free keyword research work, free campaign setups and other good chunks of work -- from five PPC experts and without spending a single dime! Smart, isn't it? Because they knew they can get away with it.


I highlighted this here because this employer said that they need to hire someone at the end of the day, but it's been quite a while they have hired no one (or maybe got one of these candidates outside of Upwork and hired them). Very bad in either case!

Community Member

Shahzada A wrote:
How to Report Employers Who Lure Freelancers in to Do Free Work?

Go to the job post, clock on "Flag as inappropriate" and choose "Client is asking for free work"

Clients only do this because freelancers "train them" to do it by throwing free work at them.


It is a violation of the terms of service for a client to ask for free work.

Professional freelancers politely tell such clients that they'd be happy to do X (whatever X is) as soon as the client has hired them for a test contract.

If no offer for a test contract is forthcoming, a professional freelancer walks away.



Community Manager
Community Manager

Hi Shahzada, 

I'm sorry to learn about your experience with this client. We always recommend freelancers not to start working on a project unless a contract is in place. This allows both the client and the freelancer to be protected under the Upwork Payment Protection Program. 

In the future, if a client requests you to work for free or do a free test before hiring you on a contract, please report them by flagging their job posting or the message where they asked for free work. The team will review it against the ToS and take appropriate actions.


I would recommend that you read up on these freelancer resources and these tips for avoiding questionable jobs, for help getting started, and for more information about working safely through Upwork.

~ Avery
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