High earners could be handed larger welfare payments when they lose their job, under new proposals.
The plans, linking welfare payments to previous income, are due to go to Cabinet before Christmas.
ICTU social policy chief Dr Laura Bambrick told Newstalk Breakfast the plan would would bring Ireland in line with other EU countries.
"This would be a pretty radical shake up of our social welfare system," she said.
"We would be moving away from the system where everybody - regardless of what their previous earnings were, or what their previous contributions history is... receives a flat €208.
"Instead, we would be moving to more the European-style of social insurance – that if you lost your job, you would get a percentage of your previous earnings.
"What this means is that you're able to ensure your living standards."
'Not another form of tax'
Currently, people on the average wage in Belgium get 91% of their previous earnings when they lose their job.
That drops to 82% in Denmark and 71% in the Netherlands.
Dr Bambrick said Ireland is currently on a different system.
"In Ireland here, because you get a flat rate, that €208 just equates to 26% - a quarter - which means you can't pay your mortgage.
"We're really unusual in having people looking for mortgage holidays".
Asked if it was reasonable that those who potentially have more money get more money, Dr Bambrick said the system is completely different.
"It's exactly like insuring yourself; you're not just paying another form of tax.
"At the moment our social insurance is basically acting like another form of income tax - we would be moving to more pay-related social insurance, and pay-related social insurance payments when we have to draw them down.
"We know that workers on higher earnings are less likely to have job loss, and I know that sounds strange... but when they do lose their job, they are out of work for less time than those who earn lower earnings.
"What it does is, if people believe that they have that social insurance safety net, that if they do fall on bad times, they're more committed to the social insurance system.
"So, in other countries they don't have this big debate to the same extent that we do have here - that 'I pay for everything and I get nothing in return', they don't have that the same way as here.
"In effect, it works out much better; you have people more agreeable with paying higher rates of social insurance that in turn are going to people that have fewer or no contributions," she added.