What is arbitration?

    Arbitration is a service we offer which provides a final decision for workplace compensation disputes that haven’t been resolved through conciliation. If you're an injured worker with an eligible dispute, it gives you a quick, informal alternative to going to court.

    Before you can apply for arbitration or court you’ll need to go through the conciliation process and receive a ‘Genuine Dispute Certificate’.

    You can find out more detailed information about arbitration through our fact sheets on the resources page which covers everything from when to apply, what to expect at a hearing and more.

    Learn more about the arbitration process here.

    Can I apply for arbitration?

    When a dispute isn’t resolved through conciliation and a Genuine Dispute Certificate is issued, you may decide to take the dispute to arbitration or Court.

    You can apply for arbitration by sending us a completed Referral for Arbitration form if:

    • the date of your injury is on or after September 1, 2022;
    • you have a Genuine Dispute Certificate issued at conciliation; and
    • your dispute is related to one or more of the following:
      • Weekly payments
      • Medical and like expenses
      • Superannuation contributions
      • Interest on an outstanding amount.

    If you need help applying for arbitration, you can ask someone to do this on your behalf. They’ll need to put their details on the bottom of the Referral for Arbitration form and confirm that you’re happy for them to help you.

    Learn more about applying and eligibility here.

    What do I need to get started?

    You should provide:

    • a completed Referral for Arbitration form; and
    • a Genuine Dispute Certificate issued at conciliation.

    While our service is free and arbitration is an affordable alternative to going to court, we would recommend taking some time to understand the costs which may occur throughout the process. You can find out more in our Costs Fact Sheet.

    Who can help me?

    We want to make sure you have all the help you need. There are several organisations that provide assistance. A full list is available here.

    Representation or assistance

    You can have your own assistant or representative to help you through the arbitration process including:

    • Union Assist (current and former union members may be eligible);
    • WorkCover Assist;
    • Other Union or support services; or
    • Your own lawyer.

    These services may be able to help you apply for arbitration, prepare for the hearing (including what information you need to provide) and communicate with us and the others involved in the dispute on your behalf.

    An assistant or representative can also attend the arbitration hearing with you, but if you want your lawyer to attend you will need to ask our permission.

    • Contact Us

      You can contact us by email or phone.
    • Interpreter

      Speak to us with the help of an interpreter from the Translator and Interpreter Service (TIS National). Using an interpreter is free.
    • Support person

      We know how important a support person can be during an arbitration hearing. You can bring a friend or family member to support you, but they can’t speak on your behalf.

    The stages of arbitration

    • Application

      The arbitration process starts when you fill out an application for arbitration called a Referral for Arbitration.
    • Pre-hearing

      Once your application is accepted, we'll ask you and others involved in the dispute to provide more information. This will be exchanged between those involved in dispute, except your employer.
    • Hearing

      An arbitration hearing is a meeting run by an Arbitration Officer who discusses the issues in dispute with those involved.
    • Determination

      A determination is a final decision made by an Arbitration Officer about the dispute or part of the dispute. Those involved in the dispute must follow our final decision.

    What are the potential outcomes?

    Arbitration may lead to one of the following:

    • an agreement being made between you and the WorkSafe Agent or Self-insurer;
    • the dispute being dismissed by the Arbitration Officer;
    • the Arbitration Officer sending the dispute back to conciliation for further discussion with the agreement of those involved in the dispute; or
    • an Arbitration Officer making a final decision (called a binding determination).

    For Employers

    Your role as an employer in arbitration depends on whether you have a WorkSafe Agent managing the claim or if you are a Self-insurer managing the claim yourself.

    • If you’re an employer with a WorkSafe Agent

      If you have a WorkSafe Agent, they handle the arbitration dispute on your behalf. Your main role is to provide documents or information relevant to the dispute. You can also attend a hearing, but may only speak if you’re giving evidence. You should discuss your attendance with your WorkSafe Agent.
    • If you’re an employer who is a Self-insurer

      If you’re a Self-insurer, you handle the arbitration dispute yourself. You’ll also need to provide documents and information and can give evidence.
    • Representation

      If you’re an employer with a WorkSafe Agent, you may bring along a representative or a support person but they can’t speak at a hearing. We must be notified of any representative or support person’s name before the hearing.
    • Contact us

      You can contact us by phone or email.