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Home » Health Professionals » Information for Doctors » Work Capacity Assessments

Work Capacity Assessments

Another aspect of the new Act is the introduction of Work Capacity Assessments (Wax) for all workers compensation claimants.  While the initial focus will be on new claimants, it is anticipated that within 2 years  of this new Legislation, all injured  workers  whose injury occurred before and after the 2012 Act was passed, will be have undertaken a Work Capacity Assessment.


Work Capacity Assessments as defined in S44A of the new legislation, are not a single event or test, but a continual process of assessment, reassessment and information gathering throughout the life of a claim. The Wax will take into account medical evidence, vocational retraining and other material specified in WorkCover Guidelines. The Wax will be used to customise the return to work (RTW) plan and ensure workers who have a capacity to work can be matched to suitable employment.


Reference: yourhrmanager website 2013


Work capacity decisions (S43) may relate to:

  • Current Work Capacity;
  • What constitutes suitable employment;
  • The amount a worker can earn in suitable employment
  • The amount of a worker’s pre injury average weekly earnings or current weekly earnings;
  • Whether a worker can engage in suitable employment without increasing risk of re injury or
  • Any decision affecting a worker’s entitlement to weekly benefits


The Workers Compensation Commission has no jurisdiction to determine a dispute about a work capacity decision.


A worker may refer a work capacity decision for review according to the following hierarchy:

  • An internal review by the insurer
  • A merit review by WorkCover
  • A process review by the WorkCover Independent Review Officer (WIRO)
  • A Supreme Court – Judicial review


Any disputes related to liability for weekly benefits or medical disputes are NOT work capacity decisions and will still be heard in the WCC.


The WorkCover Independent Review Officer (WIRO)


Functions associated with the WIRO office commenced from 1 October 2012. Kim Garling, who reports to the Minister and parliament, has been appointed to head the WIRO office.

The WIRO has five main functions:

  • To consider complaints about insurers
  • To conduct procedural reviews of disputed work capacity decisions
  • To resolve disputes between employers and insurers
  • To review matters in the scheme of concern / interest
  • To implement a new free legal service for workers (ILARS)

Reference: QBE website 2013

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