'Arbeitnehmer' is normally used in political discussions when referring to the group of employees in general (i.e. not specific to some company). If you talk about the employees of a specific firm, your own employees or your cowokers, we normally use 'Mitarbeiter'. Typical examples of usage are 'Die Gewerkschaften vertreten die Interessen der Arbeitnehmer' vs. 'Die Mitarbeiter von Daimler fordern mehr Lohn'. But, of course, there is some overlap.
Although both can mean “employee” as wataya explains, they are also used to describe different relationships. ‘Arbeitnehmer’, literally “work taker”, means “employee”, as opposed to ‘Arbeitgeber’, literally “work giver”, which means “employer“. ‘Mitarbeiter’ is literally “coworker”, and means “colleague”.
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Coworker was not accepted
Of course not.
Arbeitnehmer is an employee -- but not necessarily somebody who is employed by the same company where I am.
If somebody works for an insurance company, they're an Arbeitnehmer, but they are not my coworker, since I do not work in that insurance company.
Are you confusing Arbeitnehmer and Mitarbeiter, perhaps?