Henry Denny & Sons (Ireland) LTD, trading as Kerry Foods v. The Minister for Social Welfare [1998] 1 IR 34


Ms. Sandra Mahon was hired by Henry Denny in 1988 as shop demonstrator, offering shoppers free samples of products.  Ms. Mahon’s contract referred to her as an independent contractor  and stated expressly that she was not an employee of Henry Denny & Sons. She was not eligible under her contract to become a member of the company pension scheme or a trade union.  Ms. Mahon was not supervised carrying out her work, but she was provided by the company with necessary clothing and equipment to carry out her function. She invoiced the company after carrying out the demonstration and this had to be signed off by the supermarket store manager, with whom Ms. Mahon was required to comply with any reasonable direction given.   Ms. Mahon was not allowed to work for any competitors and could not routinely hire other people to carry out her work. Ms. Mahon was found to be an employee of Henry Denny & Sons despite the written terms of the contract.

Held: Court looked beyond the written terms of the contract to find she was an employee

The Court held that the correct approach was to look beyond the written terms of the contract and to all the circumstances of Ms. Mahon’s employment.