Restaurant operators made up the vast majority of employers fined for using illegal workers since tougher laws were introduced last year, new Home Office figures have revealed.
The laws introduced in February 2008 have led to a record 233 firms being prosecuted for employing illegal immigrants, 173 of whom were from the restaurant/catering sector.
While the majority of these were independent restaurants and fast food takeaways, familiar names such as Pizza Hut (Hounslow), Strada (Cardiff), TGI Friday's (Grays, Essex) and Paramount Holdings (Westminster) were also "named and shamed".
Under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, which introduced the UK's new points-based system, the onus is on employers to make sure employees are legally entitled to work here.
Firms face fines of up to £10,000 for each illegal worker they employ, and more than £3.4m worth of fines have been dished out already. Before the legislation changed no more than 38 cases were brought against employers in any year.
Matthew Brown, managing director of human resources services firm Giant Precision, said: "The new civil penalty for employers that hire illegal immigrants has made a big difference to the UK Border Agency's activity in bringing cases against employers. More employers than ever before are finding themselves hit with big fines."
By Daniel Thomas
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