John Cruddas, the Labour MP, believes the move would reward "strivers". He has floated the idea that those who pay into the system "all their working lives" should be able to take more out if they become unemployed.
The policy suggestion comes as Labour wrestles with its stance on welfare. The party wants to be seen as being on the side of hard-working families, but some of its MPs are concerned that it is currently viewed as too soft on welfare issues. However, Mr Cruddas's idea risks being seen as dividing the public into "strivers" and "shirkers", a distinction the party has repeatedly accused the Conservatives of making.
Some unemployment benefits are already linked to how much a person has paid into the system. But Mr Cruddas believes that the principle could be extended further.
The Social Market Foundation warned that the policy could be seen as too blunt, warning that today's shirker is often yesterday's striver.