A furlough action is the placement of an employee in a temporary nonduty and nonpay status on a continuous or noncontinuous basis and is caused by the same reasons that create the need for a reduction-in-force (RIF), such as lack of work or shortage of funds.
RIF procedures, with some flexibility, must be followed to furlough an employee when the furlough will be for more than 30 consecutive days (or more than 22 discontinuous workdays). In short, this means retention standing determinations are made, assignment rights are identified, position offers are made and effected (on a temporary basis), and employees with no offers are furloughed.
A furlough for 30 days or less is not a RIF action, but is handled as an adverse action. Information on furloughs for 30 days or less can be found at Employee Relations, Management-Employee Relations Program.
The Office of Personnel Management has published Guidance and Information on Furloughs. Two handbooks which provide an in depth discussion of all aspects of the reduction in force are The Employee's Guide to Reduction in Force (RIF) and the Restructuring Information Handbook.