• Hunter Cresswell

Wanted: vaxxed applicants only

Chelsea resto will only interview the double-vaccinated


A personalized cover letter, resume, and proof of vaccination — the first two are routine when applying for a job, but including that third document may become the new normal.


“Only applicants who have been double vaccinated against COVID-19 will be interviewed,” is the last line, in bold, of a classified employment ad in the Aug. 4 edition of The Low Down for Le Resto Chelsea, a popular fish-and-chip/seafood restaurant on Hwy 105 that has turned take-out-only because of the pandemic. This makes Le Resto one of the first, if not the first, local restaurant to announce that it will only accept vaccinated applicants.


Le Resto Chelsea co-owner James Hargreaves said that he will only interview vaccinated applicants for front and back-of-house jobs. Low Down file photo
Le Resto Chelsea co-owner James Hargreaves said that he will only interview vaccinated applicants for front and back-of-house jobs. Low Down file photo

That advertisement, placed by Le Resto co-owner James Hargreaves, came just before Quebec announced its controversial “vaccine passport” plans, which would allow people to access non-essential services in regions with high numbers of COVID-19 cases if they show proof that they’ve been vaccinated.


“It was meant to be provocative,” Hargreaves said about the wanted ad during a phone interview.


He said that he’s been advertising jobs for front and back-of-house staff for over six months and hasn’t received a single application despite paying above minimum wage. Before the pandemic, Le Resto had 14 employees and now it’s down to five.


Hargreaves said that he hopes that making it clear that only vaccinated individuals will be considered for an interview will incentivize people to apply, knowing that the restaurant is a vaccinated environment.


“We have people in the workplace who are vulnerable,” he said.


More than one Le Resto employee has told Hargreaves that they will quit if they have to work with someone who’s unvaccinated, and he said he can’t afford to lose any more employees.


“There are always naysayers,” he said. “When it comes to naysayers affecting the health of customers and employees beside them, we draw the line.”


The Quebec workplace safety organization, the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail, or CNESST, website on COVID-19 safety and prevention in the workplace states that: “The employer must take all the necessary measures to protect the health and ensure the safety and physical well-being of the worker.”


This includes identifying, controlling, and eliminating hazards in a workplace and, during COVID-19, an employer must protect workers against risks of contamination.


“How they choose to comply with this obligation is up to the employer,” the CNESST’s frequently asked questions section on their website states in response to the inquiry, “Can an employer require their worker to get vaccinated?”


“The issue of requiring workers to get vaccinated is a sensitive issue that involves rights that are protected by the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, including the right to physical well-being. It is more a matter of civic duty,” the CNESST website states.


When asked if he spoke with the CNESST or a lawyer about his classified ad, Hargreaves said: “I don’t have to. All I’ve said is all applicants who aren’t vaccinated will not be eligible for an interview.”


He said that screening applicants like this is legal, but firing employees because they’re not vaccinated isn’t.


And it won’t be just an honour system or lip service — Hargreaves said he’ll check.

“When you bring me your void cheque so I can pay your money into the bank, bring me along your vaccine certificate,” he said.