The society has been quite active in the pursuit of its proclaimed objectives. It has been holding annual conferences regularly since its inception at various places in the country. The first conference was held in Lucknow in 1957. It was inaugurated by Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri, the then Union Minister and presided over by Shri V.V.Giri. In recent years also the annual conferences have been inaugurated by such luminaries as Dr. Manmohan Singh, the then Finance Minister (34th Conference in 1992); Shri P.A.Sangama, the then Labour Minister (36th Conference, 1994); Shri K.R.Narayanan, the then Vice-President of India (38th Conference, 1996); Shri Digvijay Singh, the then Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh (42nd Conference, 2000); Shri Chandrasekhar, Former Prime Minister (44th Conference, 2002); Shri Jyoti Basu, Former Chief Minister of West Bengal and a veteran Trade Unionist. The annual conference is a unique occasion, to which all members of the Society look forward when they assemble and confer. Besides the members, it also attracts a large number of other distinguished academicians, representatives of industry, trade union leaders and policy makers. Each annual conference provides an excellent forum for labour economists, professionals interested in labour and industrial relations, trade union leaders, etc., to discuss the important problems and issues concerning labour.
Another important activity of the society is the publication of a quarterly journal, The Indian Journal of Labour Economics (IJLE). The Journal is the chief organ of the society. Over the past 52 years of its publication, it has provided a forum for the publication of research studies and documentation on various aspects of labour and related subjects. The Journal is widely circulated both in India and abroad. It was edited by Dr. V. B. Singh since its inception till 1978 and thereafter by Dr. R. S. Mathur until 1985. Subsequently, Prof. L. K. Deshpande acted as its editor. From 1991 onwards, it is being edited by Dr. Alakh N. Sharma. The Society also publishes books, monographs, etc., on different aspects of labour and industrial relations with special reference to the emerging trends in India and other Third World countries. The Society also holds seminars/workshops on problems and issues related to labour which are of importance for policy making and analysis. In the past, several seminars were held on many important subjects such, as Child Labour; Nature of Research in Labour Economics; Workers’ Participation in Management; Growth, Employment and Poverty; Informal Sector, Gender and Employment, Social Security in India, Labour Mobility in a Globalised world, Right to Strike, etc. The papers and proceedings of these seminars were published in various issues of the Indian Journal of Labour Economics as well as in the form of monographs and books.
The Society functions in close co-operation with leading organisations in the country and abroad which are interested in labour related issues. This has helped ISLE to receive financial and academic support from various institutions such as Ford Foundation, International Development Research Centre, International Labour Organisation, International Institute for Labour Studies, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Planning Commission, Ministry of Rural Areas and Employment, Industrial Development Bank of India, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, State Bank of India, IEA Trust for Research and Development, Indian Council for Social Sciences Research, etc. The Society is collaborating with several institutions in areas of mutual academic interest.
The Society set up a Trust in 1996 entitled "Indian Society of Labour Economics Research and Development Trust" to provide thrust to its research activities. The Trust, in turn, has established a full-fledged research and training institute called Institute for Human Development (IHD) to undertake and promote research in the areas of labour, employment, poverty, health, education and other aspects of human development.