Under the common law, an employer cannot suspend an employee without pay. If they do not wish to pay you, then the correct step is to terminate your employment. Read my earlier article about what happens if you are terminated from work. However, if you are being suspended from work for virtually any reason, your employer must continue to pay you.
The only time an employer can suspend a worker without pay, under the Fair Work Act is when there is industrial action, or if there is some accidental breakdown of equipment, which is not the employers fault. If work cannot continue for some reason, but it is not the employer’s fault, such as a natural disaster, then you can be suspended without pay. Of course, employers would have difficulty suspending any employee just because there is not enough work or if the worker is on leave.
You cannot be suspended without pay for misconduct, although you can be directed not to attend work and to await further instructions from your employer. It can happen that you are suspended on pay while an investigation is taking place.
There are different rules in place for public servants or any government employees or for employees of small businesses. If you are concerned, please seek legal advice from your solicitor. Make sure you bring along any correspondence you have received from your employer.