When Amanda came home to find her partner Jake clutching his chest in pain, she rushed him to the hospital, where he collapsed outside the emergency room. Doctors diagnosed an aortic aneurysm: Jake’s aortic valve had burst, and he needed immediate surgery. There was a 50 percent chance he would not survive.

After a restless night in the hospital, Amanda was on hand when Jake woke up. And thanks to a supportive workplace, she was able to use her sick leave to stay with him while he made a full recovery – including 12 weeks of physical therapy and medical appointments.

During this stressful time, Amanda never worried about missing a paycheck or losing her job. Why? Because she works for a company that recognizes that workers, and the people they love, deserve time to look after their health.

Since 1986, the Vermont Energy Investment Corp. has actively created a culture in which its employees can take a sick day without guilt or fear of termination.

VEIC was founded on the principle that good employees drive great results, and to its founders, that meant fostering a balance between life and work for all of their employees. VEIC employees can count on a number of supports to deal with the health emergencies that are an inevitable part of life.

In the past two years, the company expanded their already comprehensive health plan to include a “Care and Concern” option, meaning employees can take up to 15 paid days to care for ailing loved ones – which is how Amanda was able to take care of Jake without eating through her own sick leave. The company also increased their short-term disability pay from 60 to 100 percent. And they’ve worked hard to ensure that employees face no stigma for taking time off to care for themselves or their family members.

VEIC recognized that illness is a natural part of life. And they wanted their employees to deal with these natural life events without the added stress of income or job insecurity. Their employees give their time, talents and experience to the company, and in return, VEIC makes sure they’re protected when life throws them a curve ball.

They’re not alone. At a recent symposium on paid family and medical leave at the Labor Department, business leaders from SAP, Union Square Hospitality Group, Morgan Stanley and Deloitte all noted that the costs of providing paid leave are more than offset by the benefits in employee retention and morale. More and more companies – big and small − are recognizing that supportive policies like paid sick leave are an investment they can’t afford not to make.

Today the Department of Labor announced new rules that will expand paid sick leave to more than 1 million federal contractors. And those new rules will usher in benefits that workers like Amanda already enjoy: income stability, peace of mind and the confidence of knowing that the employers they work for are also working for them.