As of 1999, the labor force was estimated at 5.2 million. Among wage earners in 2001, 5% were engaged in agriculture; 35% in industry; and 60% in services. The estimated unemployment rate in 2002 was 8.5%.
The right to form and join unions is protected by law, although as of 2002 union membership was on the decline. The major labor confederation is the Czech-Moravian Chamber of Trade Unions. Workers are freely allowed to organize and engage in collective bargaining. Striking is also allowed, but only after mediation efforts fail. Collective bargaining is usually conducted on a company-by-company basis between unions and employers.
In 2002, the law lowered the standard workweek from 42 to 40 hours. It also provides for a mandatory 30-minute rest period during the eight-hour day. The minimum working age is 15 years with some exceptions allowing legal employment to 14-year-old workers. There are strict standards for all workers under the age of 18, and these standards are routinely enforced. Occupational health and safety standards are prescribed and effectively enforced except in some industries still awaiting privatization. As of 2002, the minimum wage was $154 per month. The monthly average was $375.