List of largest United Kingdom employers

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This is a list of largest United Kingdom employers. There are four main kinds of employer,

  • public sector bodies
  • public listed companies (plc) such as those on the FTSE 100
  • private companies (ltd), partnerships (often LLP) or other traders
  • charitable sector organisations

Public sector employers[edit]

Partial statistics for public bodies are available from the Office for National Statistics.[1] As of September 2018, public sector employees represent 16.5% of all people in paid work, with the remaining 83.5% employed in the private sector.[2]

Employer Est. Sector Employees
NHS (England) 1948 Health 1,400,000
NHS Scotland 1948 Health 160,000
British Army 1660 Military 125,430[3]
Department of Work and Pensions 2001 Welfare 111,000[4]
HM Revenue & Customs 2005 Taxation 76,890[4]
NHS Wales 1948 Healthcare 72,000
Ministry of Justice 2007 Law 68,670
Ministry of Defence 1940 Military 65,000
Metropolitan Police Service 1829 Police 50,000 (approx.)
Royal Air Force 1918 Military 37,200[5]
Royal Navy 1546 Military 36,320[6]
Network Rail 2002 Transport 34,000
BBC 1927 Media 23,000
Home Office 1782 Security, immigration, etc. 25,850
Scottish Government 1999 Devolved government 17,000
Department for Transport 2002 Transport 17,640
Welsh Government 1999 Devolved government 5,682
Parliament of the United Kingdom 1707 Political representation 1,475

Public listed company employers[edit]

Statistics are available on an ad hoc basis from public company annual reports.[7]

Currently Tesco and Compass Group are the largest plc employers.

Private company employers[edit]

Statistics on staff numbers were compiled in the Sunday Times' "Top Track 100" of private companies for 2012.[8] The three largest private employers in that list were John Lewis Partnership, Swire Group and Alliance Boots.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ ONS, Public sector personnel
  2. ^ Public sector employment, UK: September 2018 Office for National Statistics
  3. ^ British Army (Regular and Army Reserve)
  4. ^ a b Includes "temporary and casual" employees.
  5. ^ Regular and RAuxAF
  6. ^ Regular and Maritime Reserve
  7. ^ nb, calculations differ depending on the company's subjective perception of who counts as an "employee". See UK labour law.
  8. ^ See Fast Track 100 Archived 2013-05-11 at the Wayback Machine' (24 June 2012) Sunday Times