It's been this way since I returned in October. I found a thread on the EQ boards about it. If you have more than 10(11, 12?) minutes left on your timer, it sets it to 15 seconds, or something like that, when you suspend.
Definitely not a bug, it's there on purpose.
Note that if you just keep the merc out, it doesn't affect you at all (except you get less XP).
PS - my take on it? Truthfully, merc fees are so low anyway, I just unsuspend for buffs, and re-suspend. 30pp per ~30 minutes (the shortest duration buff I get from my merc) is pretty much nothing. And that's in the 80s. At lower levels, it's even less.
Tatanka Wolfdancer, 106 Wood Elf Druid, 7 x 300+ Master Artisan, 7 maxed trophies :)
Anaceup Mysleeves, 105 Erudite Mage, 2 x 300 Master Artisan
Snookims Whinslow, 105 Erudite Enchanter, 2 x 300 Master Artisan
<Inisfree>, Tunare (Seventh Hammer!)
Tatankaa (95 Inquis)/Urkell (38 Conj)/ Seanthornton (24 Pally), <Inisfree> Freeport server (some other server now)