The United Kingdom is the oldest staffing market in Europe and the largest market in terms of size (by sales). It is highly fragmented with some 15,000 firms. Many of the most recognisable UK-based providers such as Hays, Michael Page and Robert Walters have now spread around the world.

Temporary agency work is treated as a service sector in its own right and, in the UK, was one of the least regulated markets in Europe. However, in recent years the implementation of the European Agency Work Directive has increased the degree of control. There are two principal associations representing the interests of the staffing industry: the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) and the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).

The UK, a leading trading power and financial centre, is the third-largest economy in Europe after Germany and France, and the seventh-largest in the world.  In addition to a flexible labour market, the country is pro-business and open to foreign investment. The population is over 60 million and the nation is placed seventh in the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ ranking.

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