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kbadeau
Community Member

Would you be suspicious of a freelancer with 25 pages of completed jobs in the last 4 months?

I just find it hard to believe that a single person could crank out that much work.

ACCEPTED SOLUTION

Hi All,

 

There are several reasons why a freelancer may have many contracts completed in a relatively short period of time and some of you noted possible reasons here. If you suspect any activity that may be violating Upwork TOS, feel free to flag the profile and our Trust & Safety team will surely review.


I would like to clarify that subcontracting is allowed on Upwork but only on Fixed-Price contracts and as long as it's not prohibited by the client. Feel free to check out threads here and here for some recent discussions on this topic. We hope this clarifies.

 

~ Arjay
Upwork

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42 REPLIES 42
wlyonsatl
Community Member

It depends on the type of work the freelancer does, but that does seem like a lot of projects to win and complete in such a short time.

sofia2008
Community Member

The date of the completed job is the date the contract was ended. The projects may have been done more than 4 months ago. It is possible that many contracts were ended at the same time, but completed throughout a longer period. If you look at the start date and the amount, it can easily confirm that.

ericaandrews
Community Member

Possibly but not necessarily: If they are all short 1-2 hour 'quick'  turn-around jobs coming from the same one client or few clients, it's very possible. I've seen freelancers that had good long-term relationships with one or a few clients that simply 'fed' them small contracts directly repeatedly when they needed tasks completed instead of posting a job publicly and getting flooded with junk proposals. In those situations, the freelancer doesn't need to bid or 'win' the contracts because the client(s) has already decided to keep using the same good freelancer instad of wasting time 'looking around' for other freelancers. The client can just message the freelancer "Hey, I need 15 translations done. Are you available? ...Great!. Sending the contracts over to you now."

 

Usually when I see these types of profiles, it's just a client or group of clients that found a freelancer that 'works' and have decided to stick with them.  I've also seen this happen with clients that don't know that they can or understand how to just add 'milestones' to an existing contract and, instead, keep cutting new contracts for each task instead of just adding a new milestone. Also, if the freelancer offers 'consulations' through the project dashboard, those short tasks will all show up as separate jobs.

 

It's not suspicious unless the jobs or clients look fake.

kbadeau
Community Member

I don't know, some of them are like 50 hour projects. It's none of my business but I think I was hired after this person because he/she stopped responding, so I feel bad if clients are being duped into hiring someone who is actually outsourcing projects.

 

I know I have a lot of projects that are "in process" because clients never closed them out. I've been trying to slowly take care of those so I don't have a ton of no feedback given projects and open but inactive projects.

verinah
Community Member

I too had a lot of projects "in process" with projects that had been inactive for months, if not years. Most repeat clients, some small but some large projects, so gather they'd been happy with my completed work but they'd gone quiet for unknown reasons.

So, at the end of last year I closed most of those I hadn't heard from for a very long time, leaving them feedback at the same time saying closing due to inactivity, but happy to work with again. I was  hoping they'd find time to leave quick feedback - so far, not much response! I thought closing them might help with winning some new clients because previously it looked like I had a lot of on the go!

All of that now means my profile looks like I completed several projects within a short time frame, but as others have mentioned, the start dates on some of them stretched back to when I first started on Upwork in 2017!

Maybe it'd be nice if Upwork had some kind of way to present projects on your profile in three categories - completed, in progress, and inactive if no work on them within a certain number of months. Just a thought!

prestonhunter
Community Member

I have hired over 180 freelancers on Upwork.

I don't speak for anyone other than myself.


As for myself: I can assure that I don't spend so much time analyzing any freelancer's profile page that I would notice or care one way or another about this.

 

Also: I hire a lot of freelancers who spend only an hour or two working for me. So I don't think multiple small jobs is anything alarming.

As I said, I was asked to take on extra work to make up for another freelancer's ghosting, so I looked the person up. If a person is representing himself as a freelancer and farming out work to other freelancers without the client's knowledge, isn't that a violation of the TOS?

25005175
Community Member

If a person is representing himself as a freelancer and farming out work to other freelancers without the client's knowledge, isn't that a violation of the TOS?

Only if they are hourly jobs. The ToS does not prohibit the outsourcing of Fixed Price jobs, but transparency is recommended.

 

Edited to strikeout incorrect information and replace with correct information: Subsection 3.2 of the Terms of Use agreement requires that the Client know if the hired person is not the one who performs the work. Regarding hourly, specifically, there is another restriction. Hourly sub-contracting loophole? 


Jonathan L wrote:
If a person is representing himself as a freelancer and farming out work to other freelancers without the client's knowledge, isn't that a violation of the TOS?

Only if they are hourly jobs. The ToS does not prohibit the outsourcing of Fixed Price jobs, but transparency is recommended.


As Arjay (mod) has said, "I would like to clarify that outsourcing is allowed on Upwork but only on Fixed-Price contracts and as long as it's not prohibited by the client."
Just to clarify. 


Maria T wrote:

As Arjay (mod) has said, "I would like to clarify that outsourcing is allowed on Upwork but only on Fixed-Price contracts and as long as it's not prohibited by the client."


Turns out, it isn't that straightforward. Which is why other mods, like Valeria, have - this past month - posted statements that contradict Arjay. It's complicated, hence the confusion. I break it all down on this thread: Hourly sub-contracting loophole? 

verinah
Community Member

You'd think it should be a violation for both hourly and fixed price contracts, I agree.  Questionable ethically, definitely.

Maybe flag the freelancer in some way to Upwork in case the right people don't see it here. Is the person set up as any agency and transparent about engaging others in some way - or claiming to do it and then therefore ultimately taking responsibility for quality and completion? 

I've had a flurry of flagging dodgy job postings in the last few days. Seem to be a lot of those again at the moment too.

It's good coming onto the forums every so often and seeing there are still some true freelancers and clients trying to keep everything as it should be! 

"If a person is representing himself as a freelancer and farming out work to other freelancers without the client's knowledge, isn't that a violation of the TOS?"

 

There was a thread some time back about this subject, but I cannot find it now. I don't think there was ever an official answer.

 

As I read the rules, yes, it is a violation. However, freelancers do it, and have even admitted it in the forum with no moderator response. I will ask a moderator to give us an Upwork answer.

 

I feel it is unethical to say you are doing the work, when, in fact, someone else is doing the work at a lower rate or wage. Why not become an agency? Because questions arise, like who is doing the work? What are the qualifications and what about financial and regulatory fees? And clients have complained because the work is often poor.

 

 

 

 


Jeanne H wrote:

I feel it is unethical to say you are doing the work, when, in fact, someone else is doing the work at a lower rate or wage. Why not become an agency? Because questions arise, like who is doing the work? 


I think it's unethical if a client hires a freelancer to write an article or translate something; in that case, the person who's hired should be doing the work. However, if I'm doing a large graphic design project and there are some easier components to it, I don't see anything unethical about getting an entry level freelancer to complete some of the tasks. For example, I had a design project in which a client had a bunch of charts that they needed to recreate, and that involved me having to type loads of data into Excel - I could have hired another freelancer to do that, instead of charging my client $90/hour to do data entry! But since it was an hourly project, that wasn't possible. 

 

As for "why not become an agency", I would gladly do that, except for these two major drawbacks: 1) Many clients hate agencies and just plain avoid them, and 2) Upwork's agency model is cumbersome because the client has to hire each freelancer separately, instead of just hiring one person to head up the project and delegate tasks.

 

I just think it would be nice if Upwork allowed me to manage my business as I see fit and potentially create more work for other freelancers, instead of putting roadblocks in my way.

 


Jeanne H wrote:

What are the qualifications and what about financial and regulatory fees? And clients have complained because the work is often poor.


What financial and regulatory fees would there be? And clients have complained about poor work from individual freelancers as well - that's a completely separate issue that Upwork ought to address. If were to subcontract, I would be the project manager and take complete responsibility for ensuring that the work was done properly (I'd redo it myself, if necessary), because it's my reputation and JSS that's on the line.

I have no problem, in general, with agencies or people who outsource or have other freelancers do the work. I do have a problem with freelancers who are pretending to do the work, are not honest with the client, and paying the real workers next to nothing.

 

"I think it's unethical if a client hires a freelancer to write an article or translate something; in that case, the person who's hired should be doing the work."

 

Agreed.

 

"However, if I'm doing a large graphic design project and there are some easier components to it, I don't see anything unethical about getting an entry level freelancer to complete some of the tasks."

 

Nor do I. You are still in charge, are doing the majority of work, and overseeing the freelancer.

 

"As for "why not become an agency", I would gladly do that, except for these two major drawbacks: 1) Many clients hate agencies and just plain avoid them, and 2) Upwork's agency model is cumbersome because the client has to hire each freelancer separately, instead of just hiring one person to head up the project and delegate tasks."

 

Again, you are a responsible freelancer, using the system appropriately. Many are not. That is where the problem lies. For those who use and abuse new freelancers, (no one who has posted in the forums) there needs to be a statement declaring if this is a Terms violation. I have dealt with freelancers who are manipulated by established freelancers and are doing all the work for peanuts, and nothing is transparent.

 

I have two issues. One, in many cases the person with the skills doing the work are not even on the radar. It is unethical that the client is not informed of the arrangement if the work is performed in its entirety or majority by someone else. Two, it is unethical to use freelancers without appropriate compensation and acknowledgement. It is the freelancers who are behaving this way, not ethical, professional freelancers like you.

 

"I just think it would be nice if Upwork allowed me to manage my business as I see fit and potentially create more work for other freelancers, instead of putting roadblocks in my way."

 

This would all be resolved if the powers that be answered the simple question about Terms violation. If freelancers can do whatever they want to the client, and use new freelancers horribly without ever being truthful, or giving the client an informed choice, and it's fine with Upwork - then I guess that's just the way it is on Upwork. I still want a definitive answer, and no one will give me one.

 

"What financial and regulatory fees would there be? And clients have complained about poor work from individual freelancers as well - that's a completely separate issue that Upwork ought to address. If were to subcontract, I would be the project manager and take complete responsibility for ensuring that the work was done properly (I'd redo it myself, if necessary), because it's my reputation and JSS that's on the line."

 

I was referring to all the expenses a legitimate agency would pay to their subcontractors or employees.  I in no way want anything added from Upwork. A clarification is all that is required. If it is a violation, Upwork has work to do.

 

Again, you are a professional, ethical, and honest freelancer. I am talking about freelancers who use others without informing clients and treating the freelancers doing the work like garbage. Apparently, a lot of this is done through chat rooms and messaging, where freelancers find vulnerable and often desperate people who have skills. This could be a win-win situation, but it's often a way to use others to the advantage of the freelancer.

 

I have no idea how many freelancers are manipulating people outside of Upwork who are doing the work, or even other freelancers. It isn't just on Upwork, but some platforms specifically state it is not allowed without informing the client.

 

 

 

Hi All,

 

There are several reasons why a freelancer may have many contracts completed in a relatively short period of time and some of you noted possible reasons here. If you suspect any activity that may be violating Upwork TOS, feel free to flag the profile and our Trust & Safety team will surely review.


I would like to clarify that subcontracting is allowed on Upwork but only on Fixed-Price contracts and as long as it's not prohibited by the client. Feel free to check out threads here and here for some recent discussions on this topic. We hope this clarifies.

 

~ Arjay
Upwork

Arjay, to make certain this is clear, if a freelancer does not inform the client that he/she is farming or as you reference it, subcontracting, it is a violation of the Terms. Is this correct? The client can't object if they don't know.


Jeanne H wrote:

Arjay, to make certain this is clear, if a freelancer does not inform the client that he/she is farming or as you reference it, subcontracting, it is a violation of the Terms. Is this correct?


One of the threads that Arjay linked included a link to the Optional Service Contracts Terms agreement. The first passage of the text says that Client and FL automatically agree to incorporate all of the terms in the agreement unless they specify alternate options in an agreement presented to the Upwork legal team. 

 

"However, if and to the extent that the Users who are party to a Service Contract have not agreed to different terms, then they agree to incorporate these Optional Terms."

 

Section 3 of that agreement covers subcontracting/outsourcing. It does not say that the FL needs to notify the Client. The FL is responsible for the quality of the work, legality of the outsourcing under applicable laws, and the confidentiality and protection of the IP.

 

My best interpretation of the text says that the Client tacitly agrees to outsourcing if they do not specify otherwiseIn isolation, this text says that Clients tacitly agree by default to outsourcing. However, it is not in isolation. The Terms of Use agreement, subsection 3.2 states (emphasis mine):

 

"Similarly, you must always be honest about who’s doing the work. That means you can’t allow someone else to use your account, which misleads other users or falsely claim one freelancer will do a job when another will actually do it – including submitting a proposal on behalf of a freelancer who can’t or won’t do the work."

 

Thus, per the Terms of Service in entirety, a freelancer or agency business manager must communicate to the Client that the work will be done by a 3rd party before the that work begins. Even though it is ill-advised, that notification is all that is required, because the Optional Service Contracts Terms agreement still has the tacit agreement element.

I have read that before and still find it necessary to say things directly. The information provided still does not say, unless I read over it, that the clients need to be informed of outsourcing/subcontracting/farming whatever, and if not, then it is a Terms violation from the freelancer.

I'm not saying it is advisable. But it is technically legal on Upwork.  Actually, rereading the Terms of Use agreement, subsection 3.2 does state:

"Similarly, you must always be honest about who’s doing the work. That means you can’t:allow someone else to use your account, which misleads other users or falsely claim one freelancer will do a job when another will actually do it – including submitting a proposal on behalf of a freelancer who can’t or won’t do the work."
 
So, I'm going to update my earlier statement, to prevent further confusion on this subject.

Hi Jeanne,

 

To reiterate, freelancers can subcontract on fixed-price contracts unless the client prohibits it. If a freelancer is planning to subcontract some tasks on a fixed-price contract to another freelancer, we strongly encourage them to share that with the client to maintain trust and transparency.

~ Valeria
Upwork

Valeria - So freelancers are not required to disclose, just "strongly encouraged"? Like Jeanne, I just want to be sure that I'm completely clear on this, since it's contrary to what I've read in the forum previously.

 

FWIW, I don't see why disclosure should be mandatory, as long as the client gets the work done and everybody - including Upwork - gets paid. It would actually help if I could subcontract some of the easier parts of my projects, because then I could take on more work and focus on more important tasks; I've only held off because I'd rather not have awkward discussions with clients about it.


Christine A wrote:

Valeria - So freelancers are not required to disclose, just "strongly encouraged"?


Terms of Service says that it is required. I posted an analysis of the whole outsourcing thing as it relates to hourly jobs here.

I'm asking about fixed price contracts. So far, two moderators have said that it's okay as long as the client doesn't object, but they haven't said it's a ToS violation (or even a requirement) to get the client's consent. My jobs wouldn't be "done by a third party", anyway, I'd just like the option of getting a junior assistant to help out with some minor tasks when I'm busy. 


Christine A wrote:

I'm asking about fixed price contracts. So far, two moderators have said that it's okay as long as the client doesn't object, but they haven't said it's a ToS violation (or even a requirement) to get the client's consent. 


The section of the ToS that I cite is contract-agnostic.

Valeria, this doesn't answer my question. I am specifically asking if the freelancer does not inform the client that they are farming/subcontracting if it is a Terms violation. How is the client supposed to know if the freelancer doesn't tell them? I have to guide clients through the maze just to hire, you can't expect clients to know about subcontractors if they are not informed.

 

Are freelancers just "strongly encouraged" or is it a violation as has been stated repeatedly elsewhere. This needs to be straightened out now, and not swept under the moderator rug.

I agree - I'd like a simple yes or no answer to the question, "is it a ToS violation if a freelancer subcontracts all or part of a fixed price project without getting the client's permission first?"

Hi Christine,

 

Yes, subcontracting all or part of fixed price contract without the client's permission is considered a TOS violation.

 

Thank you,

Pradeep

Upwork

Hi All,

Upwork TOS don't require the freelancer to proactively inform the client that they're planning to subcontract. However, it is best practice for the client and the freelancer to discuss any terms and arrangements before the contract starts, including whether the freelancer is planning to subcontract and whether the client disallows subcontracting on the contract, etc. Clear communication and transparency are important parts of the contract's success along with providing quality deliverables as agreed. If the client doesn't allow subcontracting, the freelancer shouldn't subcontract any part of the work.

~ Valeria
Upwork


Valeria K wrote:

Upwork TOS don't require the freelancer to proactively inform the client that they're planning to subcontract. 


Um, then what does the green text in this passage mean?

25005175_0-1673288435236.png

 


Valeria K wrote:

If the client doesn't allow subcontracting, the freelancer shouldn't subcontract any part of the work.


Agreed. But most Clients don't know that they agree to sub-contracting by default.

25005175_1-1673288783938.png

So, who are we supposed to believe?


Jeanne H wrote:

So, who are we supposed to believe?


Amazingly, Arjay, Pradeep and Valeria did not contradict each other in this thread. All say that sub-contracting without Client approval is a violation. The seeming incongruency is a result of the deliveries, in which Valeria and Arjay also make statements on highly related issues in the same paragraph.

Well, I must be an idiot because I am still seeing a contradiction, and a Catch-22 on  informing the client, or it's a violation.


Jeanne H wrote:

Well, I must be an idiot because I am still seeing a contradiction, and a Catch-22 on  informing the client, or it's a violation.


Well, the statements about informing the Client do contradict the ToS.


Valeria K wrote:

Hi Jeanne,

 

To reiterate, freelancers can subcontract on fixed-price contracts unless the client prohibits it. If a freelancer is planning to subcontract some tasks on a fixed-price contract to another freelancer, we strongly encourage them to share that with the client to maintain trust and transparency.


Reading the ToS, which I can't fully understand (Spanish with mediocre English), I realize that nothing is clear, so I support Upwork declaring yes or no in this thread.
Also, how does the client choose to prohibit or approve the subcontracting? Is there a properly explained button to accept or deny it? Which option of the two is set "by default"?

 

As already stated, the "legality" is not clear, nor is it clear how the client knows that they are outsourcing or not.


Maria T wrote:


Also, how does the client choose to prohibit or approve the subcontracting? Is there a properly explained button to accept or deny it? Which option of the two is set "by default"?


The default is APPROVED, according to the Optional Service Terms agreement part of the ToS. There is no button. The client, best as I can tell, has to submit in writing (and the FL must agree, in writing) to the Upwork legal team.

 

All of the relevant information is a bit scattered. I tried to consolidate it here: Hourly sub-contracting loophole? . It's possible that I missed something, so I ask everyone to check it out.


Jonathan L wrote:

Maria T wrote:


Also, how does the client choose to prohibit or approve the subcontracting? Is there a properly explained button to accept or deny it? Which option of the two is set "by default"?


The default is APPROVED, according to the Optional Service Terms agreement part of the ToS. There is no button. The client, best as I can tell, has to submit in writing (and the FL must agree, in writing) to the Upwork legal team.

 

All of the relevant information is a bit scattered. I tried to consolidate it here: Hourly sub-contracting loophole? . It's possible that I missed something, so I ask everyone to check it out.


I thought I understood that, but I couldn't believe it, so I thought I was mistranslating it somehow.
So if a client does not want subcontracting, he has to take the trouble to write a letter and also involve the freelancer?
This is really absurd.

Good to know.

tlsanders
Community Member

Not necessarily. Some jobs in some fields literally take 15 minutes. Some jobs linger around for months after they're completed before the freelancer or client decides to actually close the job. It could be that the freelancer has been on the platform for years and in the past few months has started cleaning up all those old, open contracts. You may want to take a look at the start dates on those contracts to get a better idea of what was really happening.

It's my field, so I know what kind of jobs take 15 minutes and what don't. I'm not going to flag the person or do anything further; I just wondered if I should say anything to my client who hired me after hiring that person. Interestingly, the person also has a low 80s JSS, yet has nothing but 5 star reviews visible unless you dig deeper.

 

Anyway, not my circus, not my monkeys... another day, another dollar for me.

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