Recruitment company boss Lisa Brewster resigns from Brewster Partners after being filmed encouraging furloughed staff to work

The boss of Sheffield recruitment firm caught on camera apparently encouraging furloughed staff to work has resigned.

Lisa Brewster, who was managing partner of Brewster Partners, departed after she was filmed advising staff on a Zoom call during the pandemic, a source told The Star.

At one point in the leaked video she says: ‘So, technically, yes, you're furloughed. You can choose to work, though, which I'm presuming nearly everybody here will be doing…’

She is the ex-wife of chief executive Nigel Brewster who remains at the company.

Since the incident, Brewster Partners has moved from Tenter Street to a new office on Carver Street.

WHAT CHANGES HAVE THERE BEEN?

Since the incident in November, employee numbers, once thought to be more than 40, have fallen to 18, according to the firm’s Linkedin page. Three directors have resigned including Sir Nigel Knowles - a former chief executive of Sheffield law firm DLA Piper - Rachel Hannan and Christopher Alcock.

Read More

Read More
Sheffield's largest office building Moorfoot could be flattened in plan for more...

Mr Alcock remains a person with ’significant control,’ with the power to hire and fire directors, due to owning more than 25 per cent of company shares.

Nigel Brewster volunteered on the Local Enterprise Partnership for 10 years.

Nigel Brewster is the only other person with the same status and the sole remaining director.

Last month, he resigned from the Local Enterprise Partnership after 10 years of voluntary work. The LEP sets the region’s strategic economic direction and boosts businesses with grants of public money.

Meanwhile, the company said it hired Knights plc to conduct an independent legal review which found ‘no evidence there was misuse of the scheme’.

WHAT STEPS HAS THE FIRM TAKEN?

Lisa Brewster, who was managing partner of Brewster Partners, departed after she was filmed advising staff on a Zoom call during the pandemic, a source told The Star.

In a statement it said managers had been given extra training and it was ‘requesting a dialogue with HMRC to bring these matters to a close’.

It added: ‘Despite there being no evidence of misuse of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and the company sending formal written letters to furloughed staff in April 2020 informing them they must not work, when reflecting more broadly on Knights’ findings – particularly in relation to the content of Zoom calls – our board launched a review of the company’s communication as a matter of good practice.

‘This led to the provision of additional training and support for managers, as well as the implementation of new processes for internal communication.

‘In order to bring this matter to a close the business has subsequently requested a dialogue with HMRC and these communications are ongoing.

“We are completely satisfied that we have done everything within our power to successfully address this issue at every level’.

The firm has recently moved from Tenter Street to Carver Street in the city centre. This week it announced a ‘major restructure’ which saw Paula Barber and Pete Shillito promoted to managing partner.

Following Nigel Brewster’s resignation from the LEP, interim chair Lucy Nickson, said: “I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Nigel Brewster for his efforts over the past ten years. His work on the skills agenda included overseeing a number of major deals with government to improve the local skills system - ensuring that the needs of businesses and better job opportunities are at its heart.”

The government's furlough scheme was designed to protect jobs during the Covid pandemic by paying 80 per cent of wages - up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.

Key to the scheme was that people must not work for their company while furloughed.

To continue holding the powerful to account and giving people a voice, The Star needs you to subscribe, please