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Recrutiment & Employment Confederation

Following the 'Great Depression', placing workers into employment became not just a government priority but a UK necessity.

In 1930, a group of like-minded, quality employment agencies came together to form the first recognised recruitment industry trade body - LEAF - the London Employment Agencies Federation. This is the REC’s heritage.

The idea behind LEAF was to safeguard the labour market. LEAF took an oak leaf as its emblem.

Gradually LEAF extended membership beyond London and the organisation changed its name to EAF – the Employment Agencies Federation – when it became a national organisation.

In 1960, the EAF appointed Major Donald Cropper as its first General Secretary. He established regional activities and started campaigning on behalf of the industry.

In 1972, the Federation incorporated as the Federation of Personnel Services of Great Britain.

In 1984, the Federation changed its name to the Federation of Recruitment and Employment Services (FRES).

The recruitment industry experienced rapid growth in the 1990s and into the twenty first century. Overall industry revenue increased from £3bn in 1993 to £27bn in 2007-8, before the recession hit in 2008. Membership of the FRES dramatically increased around this time as well.


In 1963, the Institute of Employment Consultants (IEC) was established as ‘a voluntary association of individuals from the employment consultancy profession’.

Its purpose was to enhance the knowledge, skills and reputation of its members and it gained charitable status for the purposes of education.

Becoming the REC 

Increasing co-operation between the FRES (representing companies) and the IEC (representing individuals) led to a merger in 2000 and the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) was born. At this time the UK recruitment industry was worth £24bn.

Today, the REC is the largest professional body for UK recruitment, representing an industry now worth £43 billion to the UK economy.

Being a member of the REC means being amongst the best.

Representing a network of more than 3,300 recruitment businesses and 10,500 individual recruiters gives us a unique insight that can help you grow.