PetSmart Employees Request COVID-19 Protections from Retailer’s Private-Equity Owner

PetSmart employees are calling on the principal owner/investor of the company, private equity firm BC Partners, to prioritize their health and safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic as they face layoffs, cuts in work hours and a resurgent threat of virus.

More than 500 current and former PetSmart employees signed a petition that was sent to BC Partners requesting that the principal owner provide adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and hazard pay to those required to work, and severance pay to those laid off. In the petition, first reported in The Wall Street Journal, employees are also asking that healthcare benefits are extending to those the private equity firm has laid off or furloughed so that they stay protected during the pandemic.

PetSmart stores across the country have remained open amid the global COVID-19 pandemic. Employees report that the stores lack basic safety precautions, like adequate masks and gloves, they are being overworked and stores are understaffed as hours are being drastically reduced, and thousands are navigating the unemployment process due to the mass furloughs and layoffs spearheaded by BC Partners.

In the petition sent to BC Partners, PetSmart employees are calling on the private equity firm to publicly commit to:

  • Hazard pay, PPE, and healthcare to all employees;
  • Healthcare and severance policy to all laid-off employees and at least 60-day notice ahead of future layoffs;
  • A seat at the board of directors to ensure workers’ perspectives are taken into consideration to ensure our employees and company succeed in the long run.

"We hope that BC Partners will show the same dedication and concern and for PetSmart employees, just like we show everyday for our customers and their pets," the petition stated. "We are essential and are simply calling for basic fairness." 

In March, PetSmart officials posted a statement about the measures the company was taking in stores to protect customers. The statement also addressed how the retailer was working with its employees. 

The company said it was working closely with its team members to "ensure that anyone who is not feeling well understands that we support them staying home."