Remploy was established under the terms of the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944 to directly employ disabled persons in specialised factories, opening its first factory in Bridgend, Wales, in 1946. Over the following decades it established a network of 83 factories across the UK making a wide variety of products from furniture, textiles, packaging, healthcare and also re-cycling of electrical appliances.
In the late 20th century it moved into service businesses such as monitoring CCTV images and, at the start of the 21st century, Remploy underwent a major change to its operation through providing general employment assistance for disabled people, and others with barriers to employment. The provision of these assistance services became Remploy's principal purpose after the management announced in 2007 proposals to close 42 Remploy factories. After heated debates at TUC and Labour conferences, with then Work and Pensions minister, Peter Hain, requiring proposed factory closures to have ministerial approval, 29 factories were eventually closed in 2008.
In December 2010, the Coalition government commissioned a review of the government's special employment programmes for disabled people which concluded the best use of government money would be to concentrate on getting disabled people into mainstream work rather than subsidising disabled-only factories. The Coalition government consequently withdrew its subsidy to Remploy factories, leading to Remploy's management proposing to immediately close the 36 least financially viable factories, potentially making 1,700 workers redundant. Thirty-three factories were eventually closed in 2012, with the loss of 1,752 jobs.
The future of the remaining 20 sites remained unclear, but in December 2012 ministers said some would close, while others might become independent businesses without Government-funded support. Ultimately nine were subject to buy outs with 11 closing by July 2013.
In July 2014, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced that it was looking for Remploy Employment Services to leave government control, by way of a joint venture between a private company and Remploy's employees. In March 2015 it was confirmed that Remploy would become owned by US service provider Maximus (70%) and an employee trust (30%). The transfer of ownership was completed on 7 April 2015.