The labor force was estimated at 11.9 million in 1998. As of 1995, agriculture and forestry engaged 44% of the labor force, services, 36%, and industry 20%. In 1999, unemployment stood at 10%, with another 20% of the workforce underemployed.
The labor code adopted in 1992 recognizes the right for all workers to voluntarily create and join unions, which may in turn associate with international affiliations. Unions also were granted independence from government administrative and economic bodies (except where provided by law), and were encouraged to develop their own charters, structure, and executive bodies. However, as of 2002, the union structure remained the same as under Soviet rule. There were no independent unions.
The standard workweek is 41 hours, and minimum wages are set by the Ministry of Finance. As of 2002, the minimum wage was about $3.00 per month. Some factories have reduced work hours to avoid layoffs, and overtime pay is rarely given. The minimum working age is 16, although 15-year-olds may work a shorter workday. The Labor Ministry has an inspection service to enforce compliance with this requirement. The Labor Ministry also inconsistently enforces occupational health and safely regulations, many industrial plants continue to be hazardous, and most workers lack protective clothing and equipment.