Although North Korea has labor laws, it is not a member of the International Labor Organization. All working-age North Koreans are expected to work for the good of the nation. Women have equal rights, and are well represented in the workforce, except at senior party or government levels. Forced labor is not prohibited and is often used as punishment for political offenses; in addition, people are often mobilized for construction projects. Child labor for children under the age of 16 is prohibited, but school children are sent for short periods to factories or farms to help production. The law provides for an 8-hour working day, but some reports claim that the hours are longer.
The country's union, the General Federation of Trade Unions of Korea, is run by the state. It encourages workers to meet production goals and also provides health, education, cultural, and welfare services to its members. Workers do not have the right to organize, bargain collectively, or strike. The formation of independent unions is prohibited.
The government sets wages and assigns all jobs. Besides free medical care and education, it provides other benefits such as subsidized housing. No data exists on the minimum wage paid by the state-owned enterprises, but it fluctuates between US$80 and US$110 per month in North Korea's free economic zone, and in foreign-owned businesses and joint ventures.