As of 1998, there were some 25.1 million persons in the labor force. Services accounted for 44% of the workforce, with 32% in industry and 24% in agriculture. About 3.6% of the labor force was officially reported as unemployed in 2001. There are large numbers of underemployed and unregistered unemployed workers.
In November 1992, the official Soviet-era unions were renamed the Federation of Trade Unions (FPU), which began then to operate independently from the government. Since 1992, many independent unions have been formed, providing an alternative to the official unions in most sectors of the economy. As of 2002, estimates of independent union membership was estimated to be three million. Membership in the FPU was thought to be 14 million. The right to strike is protected, except for the military, police, and continuing process plants.
The minimum employment age is 17, although children aged 15 to 17 can be employed by businesses with governmental permission. However, child labor remains a problem. In 2002, the minimum wage was $22 per month, which was significantly below the cost of living. The maximum workweek is set at 40 hours; the law also provides for a minimum of 24 days of vacation per year. Ukraine's laws set forth occupational health and safety standards but these are frequently ignored in practice and are not sufficiently enforced by the government.