Does Merrill Lynch have an employee attendance problem? Nah, Mother Merrill may have been too generous, is all. The firm recently announced a new sick-day protocol that, upon first blush, appears to be rather severe. Gawker.com, the pop-culture gossip blog for hip New York professionals, has posted what it describes as a bona fide internal memo sent by an employee that outlines Merrill’s “amended” policy on employee sick days. The amended policy was made affective on May 14.

The memo says that if you miss four days of work due to illness, the company can begin docking your pay—if it chooses. Nine days of illness in a year? You could face termination.

Merrill declined to make a formal comment, but a source familiar with the matter says the move brings Merrill in line with its competitors. (The firm had a far more generous sick-day policy, giving employees 40 sick days—10 occurrences of four days each.) That person also says the memo is authentic, but the blog is wrong in that the policy applies to all U.S. employees and not, as the blog says, to administrative personnel only. Further, the firm offers extensive medical leaves for the truly ill—despite the blog’s quip, “Don’t get any cancer, guys!”