Before you start
WorkSafe's Internal Review Unit (IRU) is an independent unit that is separate from the WorkSafe inspectorate. The internal review process doesn't apply to complaints about how workplace visits are conducted.
Call our Advisory service on 1800 136 089 for more information.
When an employee is injured at work, both the employee and their employer are legally responsible for making sure they can successfully return to work wherever possible.
Return to work (RTW) inspectors can investigate employers to make sure they meet these responsibilities, which include:
- providing suitable or pre-injury employment to an injured worker
- planning for an injured worker's RTW
- consulting with an injured worker about their RTW
- making RTW information available to all workers
WorkSafe's RTW inspectors can:
- give an employer an improvement notice if they decide they employer has not met its responsibilities under the RTW legislation, or
- take no action
WorkSafe's IRU can review most RTW inspector decisions (or non-decisions).
Certain people affected by a decision can apply for a review. The review process is quick and straightforward.
The review process
An employer may dispute a RTW inspector's decision to issue an improvement notice and ask for an independent internal review because it believes it has met its legal duties.
Alternatively, a RTW inspector may decide that the employer has met its legal duties and decide not to issue an improvement notice.
The employee directly affected by this decision may believe a notice should have been issued to their employer. They can ask for an independent internal review if they want to dispute this decision.
Who can ask for a review?
Anyone considered to be an 'eligible person' can ask for a review.
Generally, an eligible person is:
- the employer who received the improvement notice
- the employee or employer directly affected by the decision of the inspector To apply for a review, complete the form online or download it and email it to the IRU.
You must make your application within 14 days after the day you first became aware of the notice. However, the IRU may allow a longer period.
How internal reviews work
When the IRU has received your application, we will let you know. We may also contact other relevant people.
We will consider the inspector’s decision and any information you provide. This includes the information the RTW inspector had when making their decision.
We may ask you and other relevant people for more information. The IRU may also visit your workplace.
We will talk with you about any relevant information. The inspector who made the original decision will be asked to talk about any new or additional information.
If you've applied for a review but you're not the employer of the workplace, we will let the employer know about the internal review application. They will be invited to provide information.
How long does it take?
We must complete internal reviews within 21 days for a RTW inspector’s decision.
The exception is a review of an inspector's decision to certify that the matters the subject of a RTW an improvement notice have been remedied. Those reviews must be completed within 7 days of your application.
Can I withdraw the application?
You can withdraw an application by writing to the IRU.
You might do this for many reasons, including that you have complied with the notice under review.
What decisions can be reviewed?
The legislation outlines which decisions made by a RTW inspector can be internally reviewed. A decision is reviewable if the RTW inspector:
- issued an improvement notice
- certified that the matters the subject of a RTW improvement notice have been remedied
- failed or refused to make either of these decisions
WorkSafe's IRU is independent of our operations area.
When reviewing a decision, the IRU must affirm, vary or set aside the decision.
The decision can also be stayed while the review takes place. The IRU may also or set aside the decision and substitute it with another appropriate decision.
Asking for a stay of a decision
An eligible person can ask for the decision being reviewed to be stayed.
An application to stay a decision should apply to the decision being reviewed.
The IRU must make a decision within 24 hours on whether to stay an application. It may attach conditions to the stay.
If a decision isn’t made within 24 hours, it is understood that the IRU has granted a stay.
When a stay is granted, the decision under review is only stayed until the IRU has completed its review.
Does the original decision still apply during the review?
You must still follow any interim directions or other requirements from the RTW inspector’s decision.
Unless the decision has been stayed, an application to the IRU doesn't change that decision during the review.
How will I know the outcome?
The IRU must give you our decision in writing and provide the reasons, findings and evidence used to make this decision.
Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)
If you're not satisfied with a decision by the IRU, you can apply to VCAT for review of that decision.
You must make your application to VCAT for review of that decision within 14 days of becoming aware of it.
This information is based on the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013.
It should not be considered a legal document or a substitute for legal advice.
If there are differences between the interpretation of this information and the law, the law applies.
For more information, contact the IRU or the WorkSafe Advisory service.
You can find application forms online or any WorkSafe office.