Tapas Factory hit with £30,000 civil penalty

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The popular Durham restaurant has been fined £30,000 by the Home Office for employing illegal workers.

Tapas Factory, located at 14 Elvet Bridge, was listed in a publication by the Immigration Enforcement department detailing businesses that have faced civil penalties for employing illegal workers. Published on 30th May 2024, the report notes various businesses across the North East, Yorkshire, and Humberside that have been fined for employing illegal workers in the final quarter of 2023.

Tapas Factory, registered under Durham Catering Limited, was given the joint second-highest total fine at a value of £30,000. While the report did not detail the specific reason for the civil penalty, the Home Office lists various reasons for why a business may be penalised.

This includes where a business has knowledge or “reasonable cause to believe” that: an employee has entered or remained in the UK without permission; is prohibited from “certain types of work”; or has “incorrect or false” papers. In such cases, business owners can be liable for an unlimited fine or a jail term of up to 5 years.

Tapas Factory was listed in a publication by the Immigration Enforcement department … for employing illegal workers

Penalties can also be enforced where businesses fail to ensure that employees have the correct “right to work”. In such cases, before 2024, businesses were liable for civil penalties of £15,000-£20,000 for each illegal worker, depending on whether it was a first-time or repeat offence.

Under new rules implemented since 1st January 2024, first-time offences will be punishable by penalties of £45,000, while repeat offences would see fines of £60,000 for each illegal worker. Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said this was as part of efforts to reduce the levels of illegal migration and illegal residency in the UK.

The BBC reported in August 2023 that, since 2018, there have been 4,000 civil penalties “issued to employers for employing undocumented workers”, which is said to have raised over £74 million.

Meanwhile, Tapas Factory has a 4.0/5 rating on Tripadvisor, with 50% of reviews giving it the full 5 stars. In 2022, a restaurant review by Palatinate described Tapas Factory as “the perfect combination of delicious food, authentic sangria and a romantic atmosphere”.

Tapas Factory have been approached for comment by Palatinate but are yet to respond.

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