In order to put suspension within proper context, one needs to understand the common law principles related to employment.
In its most basic form, the employee tenders his/her services to the employer, upon which the employer is obliged to remunerate the employee for the services rendered.
Obviously, there will be a contractual arrangement between employer and employee regarding the services to be rendered and the remuneration attached to it. The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) requires these arrangements to be in writing (refer Section 29(1) of the BCEA).
The employee however has no common law right to be given work to do, but he/she has a right to be remunerated for as long as he/she tenders his/her services and
remains available to work, albeit that the services are not necessarily utilised by the employer.
There is one exception though where there is an entitlement to be given work to do and that is where the employee’s earnings are based on commission. Later more about this particular situation within context of suspension.
The above-mentioned exception set aside, the employer is at liberty to require an employee not to perform work, for as long as the employee is available to work and is remunerated as if work is performed. This liberty on the part of the employer is however not without certain requirements of equity and fairness.
Suspension, in its precautionary application within disciplinary context, is by definition where the employee’s duty to perform work is temporarily suspended pending an investigation into alleged misconduct potentially involving the employee. What is not suspended though, is the employee’s entitlement to remuneration, hence precautionary suspension is on full pay.