A popular County Durham business has been hit with a £30,000 fine after government officials found that they had employed illegal workers.

Tapas Factory, which is based on Elvet Bridge in Durham City, was handed the hefty fine by the Home Office after the food business was listed in the latest round-up of companies in the region that had employed workers who weren't in the UK legally or didn't have the right permits to work in the UK.

According to the Home Office, the list is updated every three months and includes 13 businesses from the North East on it.

The Home Office releases the data into the public record four times per year, and the latest data relates to the period of October 1 to December 31, 2023, and was released on Thursday (May 30).

Online, Tapas Factory has rave reviews - with TripAdvisor ranking it as four stars out of five, while Google has handed it a 4.3-star rating, from 538 reviews.

Alongside Tapas Factory, here are the other businesses that have been fined for employing illegal workers are: 

  • Splash And Dash Car Wash, Dash & Go Ltd, Cameron Holdings, Mainsforth Terrace, Hartlepool, TS24 7AJ, £20,000
  • Poon Kee, Guisborough Takeaway Limited, 2 Highcliffe View, Westgate, Guisborough, North Yorkshire, TS14 6AY, £15,000
  • Hakan Barbers, Hakan Barbers Ltd, 17 Yoden Way, Peterlee, SR8 1BP, £20,000
  • Kaplans Barbers, Kaplans Turkish Barber Ltd, 10 Church Street, Seaham, SR7 7HQ, £10,000
  • Siciliano, Karman Sales, 93B York Road, Hartlepool, TS26 8AD, £20,000
  • Pizza Restaurant Marina, Marinapizza Limited, Highlight Retail Park, Harbour Walk, Hartlepool, TS24 0YA, £10,000
  • Londis, Refuel Forecourts Ltd, Gateway Petrol Station, Heath Road, Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, TS3 6AT, £10,000
  • Inter Car Cleaning, Roman Car Wash Ltd, Yellow Car Park Yellow Multi-Storey - Level 1, Metrocentre, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, NE11 9YG, £30,000
  • Bubbles Hand Car Wash, Unit One Carwash Ltd, Unit 1, Tannery Lane, Northallerton, North Yorkshire, DL7 8DS, £15,000
  • Uno Ristorante, Uno Ristorante Yarm Ltd, 99 High Street, Yarm, North Yorkshire, TS15 9BB, £45,000
  • Tyne Dock Hand Car Wash, Wash and Vac Limited, Hudson Street, South Shields, NE34 0AD, £30,000
  • Shampan Indian Restaurant, Whitley Bay, Shampan Ltd, 185 Whitley Road, Whitley Bay, NE26 2DN, £10,000

According to the Government, there can be severe penalties for employing individuals who do not have the right to work.

Gov.UK says: "You can be sent to jail for 5 years and pay an unlimited fine if you’re found guilty of employing someone who you knew or had ‘reasonable cause to believe’ did not have the right to work in the UK.

This includes, for example, if you had any reason to believe that:

  • They did not have leave (permission) to enter or remain in the UK
  • Their leave had expired
  • They were not allowed to do certain types of work
  • Their papers were incorrect or false

Tapas Factory has been contacted by The Northern Echo.