In the sentence

Laut Arbeitnehmererfindungsgesetz (ArbnErfG) besteht die Verpflichtung den Arbeitgeber unverzüglich in Schriftform zu informieren, wenn während des Arbeitsverhältnisses eine Erfindung gemacht wurde.

(translates to "According to Employee Invention Act (ArbnErfG) the obligation exists to inform the employer immediately in writing if an invention was made during the employment relationship.")

I am not sure if "der Arbeitgeber" is gender-neutral. Does Arbeitgeber in this case mean some official of the company? So if the owner of the company is female, would I have to write "die Arbeitgeberin"? But what if it is a really big company and the employee was employed by some male HR person, would it then be "der Arbeitgeber" or "die Arbeitgeberin"? Is "Arbeitgeber" a word that means the person that actively gives work to employees, or can I use it as a general term for a company where it is irrelevant if there work only women, it's gender is male nevertheless?

A workaround for this problem is to replace the word "Arbeitgeber" completely, but I am not satisfied with the suggestions made by this website:

Arbeitgeber (sg.) Führungskraft

Arbeitgeber (pl.) Arbeitgebende; Betriebe; Unternehmen

My mother tongue is German and I feel that "Arbeitgeber" is more of a general term, but I'd like some explanation and suggestions.

  • 2
    When we start "gendering" Arbeitgeber (--> Arbeitgeber/in), which is understood to be an organisation, not a person, we are not far away from gendering Tisch --> Tisch/in and Mond --> Mond/in. In this case I would vote for dismissing gender forms at all and only use das. We had an orthography reform, we also can have a genus reform. Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 11:34
  • @Christian I know what you mean and it feels wrong for me, too. But then a new question arises: if "Arbeitgeber" is gender-neutral, what about "Arbeitnehmer" (employee), as this usually refers to a single person and not a anonymous organisation? The word is very similar. Would you gender this? (edit: as I just saw the edit to jonathans answer I guess this question is now sufficiently answered)
    – Lehue
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 11:38
  • @ChristianGeiselmann This is just a matter of opinion. I'd say: Let's see where the evolution of language will lead us. I think, there is a significant difference between Arbeitgeber and Tisch: Arbeitgeber is a position of power, thus, within a mindset of gender-sensitive language as a means of feminism, there is an interest of de-masculinizing it as a concept. I don't see how this applies to Tisch.
    – Jonathan Herrera
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 12:24
  • @jonathan.scholbach I agree with you regarding the position of power. The problem is perhaps, that Arbeitgeber sometimes is an anonymous (not gender bearing) organisation, sometimes it is a person (then usually gender-bearing), and sometimes it is an organisation dominated by persons of a certain gender-selfawarenss and behavioural pattern... Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 13:02
  • @ChristianGeiselmann In Austria, while "Arbeitgeber" is more common, it is at least not unheard of to call companies (die Gesellschaft) "Arbeitgeberin" in official contexts. (Sorry for the 3 edits in rapid succession).
    – elaforma
    Commented Feb 17, 2022 at 17:03

1 Answer 1


Arbeitgeber does not denote a person in the company, but the company itself, understood as a legal person (juristische Person). So, if you work at, say, Siemens, your Arbeitgeber is not Joe Kaeser nor any other person working at Siemens, but just Siemens.

The gender-neutral form of Arbeitgeber which is used by people looking for gender-sensitive language is indeed Arbeitgebende, in analogy to Studierende. The website of the Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend suggests, they are using it as an official term: https://www.bmfsfj.de/bmfsfj/themen/gleichstellung/frauen-und-arbeitswelt/lohngerechtigkeit/entgelttransparenzgesetz/informationen-fuer-arbeitgebende

Google result suggest, though, that the use of Arbeitgeber (~50 Mio hits) is far more widespread than Arbeitgebende (~100k hits).

The analogous counterpart, Arbeitnehmende, is already part of the Duden, in the explanation of the Lemma Wochenarbeitszeit (https://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/Wochenarbeitszeit). The ratio of Google hits, (~20 Mio for Arbeitnehmer and ~150k for Arbeitnehmende) , also suggests a strong preference for the traditional masculine form, but shows a significantly higher share of the gender-neutral form compared to the ration between Arbeitgeber and Arbeitgebende. This difference could, I'd speculate, have its source in the fact that Arbeitnehmer are actual persons, which might emphasize the (felt) need for gender-neutral language more than in the case of the merely legal persons.

  • +1 exactly what I was looking for. I didn't see your edit before I wrote the comment asking for "Arbeitnehmer", but now you even cover this quite obvious follow-up question!
    – Lehue
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 11:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.