The activities of the Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs are based on a rich tradition of scientific work and research in the field of labour and social affairs, the roots of which go back to the beginning of the last century, when the first research organisation, the Social Institute of Czechoslovakia, was established as part of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (1919). However, the direct predecessor of RILSA, consisting of research departments in the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, was established later in the 20th century. In 1957, the so-called Study Institute was established as part of the State Social Security Office. Its mission was to conduct research in the field of social security. The Institute was divided into a research group for occupational medical assessment and a research group for socio-economics, which included the department of literature and documentation and the Institute’s library.
The research work of the Institute was concerned mainly with prevention (in terms of disability and ageing), rehabilitation, disability and the detection thereof and the study of socio-economic issues. A further important role comprised issues surrounding the education of scientific staff and the further training of doctors in the field of social security assessment.
The Study Institute of the State Social Security Office was transformed into an independent ministry research institute in 1961, which, three years later, was renamed the Social Security Research Institute, which was composed of research groups for socio-economic research, research in the field of medical assessment, research into the employment of disabled people, and a study and documentation group, the activities of which included the management of the library.
In 1965, the Czechoslovak Research Institute for Labour, the mission of which was to perform and coordinate labour-related scientific and research activities, was established in Bratislava. The Institute focused on research into the workforce and work processes, scientific management, the rationalisation and organisation of work, and employment law.
In 1974, the Social Security Research Institute and the Czechoslovak Research Institute of Labour were merged to form a new institution – the Czechoslovak Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs with its headquarters in Bratislava and a branch in Prague. The institute addressed scientific and research problems in the field of work, wages and social affairs; it also performed the function of an information centre for work and social affairs issues. The research in Bratislava focused on the fields of work and wages, while the Prague branch focused on the research of work-related social security and socio-economic issues.
As part of the reorganisation of the field of economic research in 1984, the institute was transformed into the Bratislava Research Institute for Social Development and Labour with a branch in Prague to which the staff of the abolished Bratislava Research Institute of Living Standards were relocated. The newly-established institute conducted research on issues surrounding work, social development and personality formation, social security, care for workers, lifestyle, standard of living and the environment. Following the end of the centrally planned economy in Czechoslovakia, the activities of the institute were reoriented towards the market economy system from 1990.
At the beginning of 1991, the institute was renamed the Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs, the main areas of interest of which concerned the social impacts of the reform measures introduced into the economy and current social policy issues.
Via resolution No. 516 of the government of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic of 16 September 1992, the Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs was abolished as of 30 September 1992. At the same time, the then Minister of Labour and Social Affairs of the Czech Republic, Ing. Jindřich Vodička, decided on the establishment of the Research Institute for Labour and Social Affairs as a budget-financed organisation managed directly by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Czech Republic, as of 15 September 1992. A subsequent addendum to this decision published on 23 December 1992 changed the status of the institute, as of 1 January 1993, from a budget-financed organisation to a contributory body based on Act No. 341/2005 Coll., on public research institutions; its status was changed to that of a public research institution on 1 January 2007.