I'm sure my case is quite generic, and details are:

  1. I got a project lead on Upwork (formerly oDesk).
  2. Fixed budget.
  3. The project is as simple as ≤4 hours of work, plus ≤2 hours communications.
  4. The budget small and will only cover my expenses on communications. In return, I expect to get some valuable experience and gain reputation from that overtime.
  5. The client asks me to sign several documents, one of them is a NDA.

I haven't had any similar experience yet but, from what I've learned from other freelancers, the rule of thumb is that one sets a minimum project duration for themselves before even talking about signing a NDA. Say, let it be 1,000 hours; and for any project that is below that mark, if asked to sign a NDA, just reject it.

Is there any more specific parameters to apply them to projects that will help filter out risky stuff, in case of being asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement?

  • Is the NDA broadly written? If you think it could be used maliciously against you (for example if you took on work from a different employer in the same sector) then decide whether it could be said you've "shared information" by virtual of your experience with this project. I'm wary of NDAs, and I think for less than a day's work it's not worth the bother.
    – halfer
    Jul 22, 2015 at 15:15

2 Answers 2


I don't understand why you would even hesitate to sign an NDA unless you didn't intend to keep the IP secret. If someone needs 5 minutes of work done and they want to ensure their IP is protected, an NDA does that. The amount of work you are being asked to complete has absolutely nothing to do with the signing of an NDA.

All the NDA states is that you will not share any information. The NDA has nothing to do with actual project scope or cost. Read it first, of course, but there should be nothing in the NDA which refers to any financial arrangements or work obligations - only penalties if you share the information.

You'll need to explain further what "risky stuff" could possibly be associated with an NDA. The only risk I could foresee is a possible conflict of interest with other projects/NDAs you currently have. If that's the case, after signing the NDA and getting the information on the project, the ethical thing to do would be to decline the work, but still honor the NDA.

  • I hesitate primarily because I'm not experienced with this sort of thing, therefore I can't make a good decision on whether it's profitable for me on the long run to restrict myself from telling other people that I've done certain things as a part or the whole of this particular project's scope. Being unable to make a decision is the reason I'm asking.
    – rishat
    Jul 8, 2015 at 17:38
  • Well, I wouldn't avoid NDAs because I wanted portfolio pieces.
    – Scott
    Jul 8, 2015 at 17:43
  • The OP should review the NDA to make sure it is legitimate and doesn't have any strange clauses in it, but other than that good answer.
    – daaxix
    Jul 19, 2015 at 20:08
  • 1
    I am downvoting (with apologies) as I think the answer is too partisan - it would be better to set out the pros and cons and let the reader decide for themselves. I don't think it is fair to assume the OP wishes to divulge someone else's business secrets - as far as I can tell he is concerned about exposure to legal risk, which is a legitimate worry.
    – halfer
    Jul 22, 2015 at 15:18
  • I am not a solicitor, but I'd be keen to discover whether the wording of a particular NDA would effectively prevent me from working in a similar business area, by virtue of the secret knowledge I am unavoidably using.
    – halfer
    Jul 22, 2015 at 15:22

Please also note that in your case of working on Upwork, Upworks TOS include a basic NDA agreement between the two parties, so this is rarely required.

I assume that your client doesn't even know about this.

See: https://support.upwork.com/hc/en-us/articles/211063608-Can-I-ask-freelancers-to-sign-a-non-disclosure-agreement

and: https://www.upwork.com/hiring/legal/intellectual-property-protection-non-disclosure-agreements/

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